I. The Uniqueness of Mary as the Mother of God
Gen. 3:15 - we see from the very beginning that God gives Mary a unique role in salvation history. God says "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed." This refers to Jesus (the "emnity") and Mary (the "woman"). The phrase "her seed" (spermatos) is not seen elsewhere in Scripture.
Gen 3:15 / Rev. 12:1 - the Scriptures begin and end with the woman battling satan. This teaches us that Jesus and Mary are the new Adam and the new Eve.
John 2:4, 19:26 - Jesus calls Mary "woman" as she is called in Gen. 3:15. Just as Eve was the mother of the old creation, Mary is the mother of the new creation. This woman's seed will crush the serpent's skull.
Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23 - a virgin (the Greek word used is "parthenos") will bear a Son named Emmanuel, which means "God is with us." John 1:14 - God in flesh dwelt among us. Mary is the Virgin Mother of God.
Matt. 2:11 - Luke emphasizes Jesus is with Mary His Mother, and the magi fall down before both of them, worshiping Jesus.
Luke 1:35 - the child will be called holy, the Son of God. Mary is the Mother of the Son of God, or the Mother of God (the "Theotokos").
Luke 1:28 - "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." These are the words spoken by God and delivered to us by the angel Gabriel (who is a messenger of God). Thus, when Catholics recite this verse while praying the Rosary, they are uttering the words of God.
Luke 1:28 - also, the phrase "full of grace" is translated from the Greek word "kecharitomene." This is a unique title given to Mary, and suggests a perfection of grace from a past event. Mary is not just "highly favored." She has been perfected in grace by God. "Full of grace" is only used to describe one other person - Jesus Christ in John 1:14.
Luke 1:38 - Mary's fiat is "let it be done to me according to thy word." Mary is the perfect model of faith in God, and is worthy of our veneration.
Luke 1:42 - "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus." The phrase "blessed are you among women" really means "you are most blessed of all women." A circumlocution is used because there is no superlative in the Greek language. Note also that Elizabeth praises Mary first, and then Jesus. This is hyperdulia (but not latria which is worship owed to God alone). We too can go through Mary to praise Jesus. Finally, Catholics repeat these divinely inspired words of Elizabeth in the Rosary.
Luke 1:43 - Elizabeth's use of "Mother of my Lord" is the equivalent of "Holy Mary, Mother of God" which Catholics pray in the Rosary. The formula is simple: Jesus is a divine person, and this person is God. Mary is Jesus' Mother, so Mary is the mother of God (Mary is not just the Mother of Jesus' human nature - mothers are mothers of persons, not natures).
Luke 1:44 - Mary's voice causes John the Baptist to leap for joy in Elizabeth's womb. Luke is teaching us that Mary is our powerful intercessor.
Luke 1:46 - Mary claims that her soul magnifies the Lord. This is a bold statement from a young Jewish girl from Nazareth. Her statement is a strong testimony to her uniqueness. Mary, as our Mother and intercessor, also magnifies our prayers.
Luke 1:48 - Mary prophesies that all generations shall call her blessed, as Catholics do in the "Hail Mary" prayer. What Protestant churches have existed in all generations (none), and how many of them call Mary blessed with special prayers and devotions?
Gal. 4:4 - God sent His Son, born of a woman, to redeem us. Mary is the woman with the redeemer. By calling Mary co-redemptrix, we are simply calling Mary "the woman with the redeemer." This is because "co" is from the Latin word "cum" which means "with." Therefore, "co-redemptrix" means "woman with the redeemer." Mary had a unique but subordinate role to Jesus in salvation.
Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2 - the word "saints" (in Hebrew "qaddiysh") means "holy" ones. So Mary is called Holy, the greatest Saint of all.
Luke 2:35 - Simeon prophesies that a sword would also pierce Mary's soul. Mary thus plays a very important role in our redemption. While Jesus' suffering was all that we needed for redemption, God desired Mary to participate on a subordinate level in her Son's suffering, just as he allows us to participate through our own sufferings.
Luke 2:19,51 - Mary kept in mind all these things as she pondered them in her heart. Catholics remember this by devoting themselves to Mary's Immaculate Heart and all the treasures and wisdom and knowledge contained therein.
II. Mary - the Immaculate Ark of the New Covenant
Exodus 25:11-21 - the ark of the Old Covenant was made of the purest gold for God's Word. Mary is the ark of the New Covenant and is the purest vessel for the Word of God made flesh.
2 Sam. 6:7 - the Ark is so holy and pure that when Uzzah touched it, the Lord slew him. This shows us that the Ark is undefiled. Mary the Ark of the New Covenant is even more immaculate and undefiled, spared by God from original sin so that she could bear His eternal Word in her womb.
1 Chron. 13:9-10 - this is another account of Uzzah and the Ark. For God to dwell within Mary the Ark, Mary had to be conceived without sin. For Protestants to argue otherwise would be to say that God would let the finger of Satan touch His Son made flesh. This is incomprehensible.
1 Chron. 15 and 16 - these verses show the awesome everence the Jews had for the Ark - veneration, vestments, songs, harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets.
Luke 1:39 / 2 Sam. 6:2 - Luke's conspicuous comparison's between Mary and the Ark described by Samuel underscores the reality of Mary as the undefiled and immaculate Ark of the New Covenant. In these verses, Mary (the Ark) arose and went / David arose and went to the Ark. There is a clear parallel between the Ark of the Old and the Ark of the New Covenant.
Luke 1:41 / 2 Sam. 6:16 - John the Baptist / King David leap for joy before Mary / Ark. So should we leap for joy before Mary the immaculate Ark of the Word made flesh.
Luke 1:43 / 2 Sam. 6:9 - How can the Mother / Ark of the Lord come to me? It is a holy privilege. Our Mother wants to come to us and lead us to Jesus.
Luke 1:56 / 2 Sam. 6:11 and 1 Chron. 13:14 - Mary / the Ark remained in the house for about three months.
Rev 11:19 - at this point in history, the Ark of the Old Covenant was not seen for six centuries (see 2 Macc. 2:7), and now it is finally seen in heaven. The Jewish people would have been absolutely amazed at this. However, John immediately passes over this fact and describes the "woman" clothed with the sun in Rev. 12:1. John is emphasizing that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant and who, like the Old ark, is now worthy of veneration and praise. Also remember that Rev. 11:19 and Rev. 12:1 are tied together because there was no chapter and verse at the time these texts were written.
Rev 12:1 - the "woman" that John is describing is Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Mary, with the moon under her feet, reflects the glory of the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ.
Rev. 12:17 - this verse tells us that Mary's offspring are those who keep God's commandments and bear testimony to Jesus. This demonstrates, as Catholics have always believed, that Mary is the Mother of all Christians.
Rev. 12:2 - Some Protestants argue that, because the woman had birth pangs, she was a woman with sin. However, Revelation is apocalyptic literature unique to the 1st century. It contains varied symbolism and multiple meanings of the woman (Mary, the Church and Israel). The birth pangs describe both the birth of the Church and Mary's offspring being formed in Christ. Mary had no birth pangs in delivering her only Son Jesus.
Isaiah 66:7 - for example, we see Isaiah prophesying that before she (Mary) was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son (Jesus). This is a Marian prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
Gal 4:19 - Paul also describes his pain as birth pangs in forming the disciples in Christ. Birth pangs describe formation in Christ.
Rom. 8:22 - also, Paul says the whole creation has been groaning in travail before the coming of Christ. We are all undergoing birth pangs because we are being reborn into Jesus Christ.
Jer. 13:21 - Jeremiah describes the birth pangs of Israel, like a woman in travail. Birth pangs are usually used metaphorically in the Scriptures.
Hos. 13:12-13 - Ephraim is also described as travailing in childbirth for his sins. Again, birth pangs are used metaphorically.
Micah 4:9-10 - Micah also describes Jerusalem as being seized by birth pangs like a woman in travail.
Rev. 12:13-16 - in these verses, we see that the devil still seeks to destroy the woman even after the Savior is born. This proves Mary is a danger to satan, even after the birth of Christ. This is because God has given her the power to intercede for us, and we should invoke her assistance in our spiritual lives.
III. Mary is our Mother and Queen of the New Davidic Kingdom
John 19:26 - Jesus makes Mary the Mother of us all as He dies on the Cross by saying "behold your mother." Jesus did not say "John, behold your mother" because he gave Mary to all of us, his beloved disciples. All the words that Jesus spoke on Cross had a divine purpose. Jesus was not just telling John to take care of his mother.
Rev. 12:17 - this verse proves the meaning of John 19:26. The "woman's" (Mary's) offspring are those who follow Jesus. She is our Mother and we are her offspring in Jesus Christ. The master plan of God's covenant love for us is family. But we cannot be a complete family with the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Christ without the Motherhood of Mary.
John 2:3 - this is a very signifcant verse in Scripture. As our mother, Mary tells all of us to do whatever Jesus tells us. Further, Mary's intercession at the marriage feast in Cana triggers Jesus' ministry and a foreshadowing of the Eucharistic celebration of the Lamb. This celebration unites all believers into one famiy through the marriage of divinity and humanity.
John 2:7 - Jesus allows His mother to intercede for the people on His behalf, and responds to His mother's request by ordering the servants to fill the jars with water.
Psalm 45:9 - the psalmist teaches that the Queen stands at the right hand of God. The role of the Queen is important in God's kingdom. Mary the Queen of heaven is at the right hand of the Son of God.
1 Kings 2:17, 20 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom, the King does not refuse his mother. Jesus is the new Davidic King, and He does not refuse the requests of his mother Mary, the Queen.
1 Kings 2:18 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom, the Queen intercedes on behalf of the King's followers. She is the Queen Mother (or "Gebirah"). Mary is our eternal Gebirah.
1 Kings 2:19 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom the King bows down to his mother and she sits at his right hand. We, as children of the New Covenant, should imitate our King and pay the same homage to Mary our Mother. By honoring Mary, we honor our King, Jesus Christ.
1 Kings 15:13 - the Queen Mother is a powerful position in Israel's royal monarchy. Here the Queen is removed from office. But now, the Davidic kingdom is perfected by Jesus, and our Mother Mary is forever at His right hand.
2 Chron. 22:10 - here Queen Mother Athalia destroys the royal family of Judah after she sees her son, King Ahaziah, dead. The Queen mother plays a significant role in the kingdom.
Neh. 2:6 - the Queen Mother sits beside the King. She is the primary intercessor before the King.
IV. Mary is Ever Virgin
Exodus 13:2,12 - Jesus is sometimes referred to as the "first-born" son of Mary. But "first-born" is a common Jewish expression meaning the first child to open the womb. It has nothing to do the mother having future children.
Exodus 34:20 - under the Mosaic law, the "first-born" son had to be sanctified. "First-born" status does not require a "second" born.
Ezek. 44:2 - Ezekiel prophesies that no man shall pass through the gate by which the Lord entered the world. This is a prophecy of Mary's perpetual virginity. Mary remained a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus.
Mark 6:3 - Jesus was always referred to as "the" son of Mary, not "a" son of Mary. Also "brothers" could have theoretically been Joseph's children from a former marriage that was dissolved by death. However, it is most likely, perhaps most certainly, that Joseph was a virgin, just as were Jesus and Mary. As such, they embodied the true Holy Family, fully consecrated to God.
Luke 1:31,34 - the angel tells Mary that you "will" conceive (using the future tense). Mary responds by saying, "How shall this be?" Mary's response demonstrates that she had taken a vow of lifelong virginity by having no intention to have relations with a man. If Mary did not take such a vow of lifelong virginity, her question would make no sense at all (for we can assume she knew how a child is conceived). She was a consecrated Temple virgin as was an acceptable custom of the times.
Luke 2:41-51 - in searching for Jesus and finding Him in the temple, there is never any mention of other siblings.
John 7:3-4; Mark 3:21 - we see that younger "brothers" were advising Jesus. But this would have been extremely disrespectful for devout Jews if these were Jesus' biological brothers.
John 19:26-27 - it would have been unthinkable for Jesus to commit the care of his mother to a friend if he had brothers.
John 19:25 - the following verses prove that James and Joseph are Jesus' cousins and not his brothers: Mary the wife of Clopas is the sister of the Virgin Mary.
Matt. 27:61, 28:1 - Matthew even refers to Mary the wife of Clopas as "the other Mary."
Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:47 - Mary the wife of Clopas is the mother of James and Joseph.
Mark 6:3 - James and Joseph are called the "brothers" of Jesus. So James and Joseph are Jesus' cousins.
Matt. 10:3 - James is also called the son of "Alpheus." This does not disprove that James is the son of Clopas. The name Alpheus may be Aramaic for Clopas, or James took a Greek name like Saul (Paul), or Mary remarried a man named Alpheus.
V. Jesus' "Brothers" (adelphoi)) = Cousins or Kinsmen
Luke 1:36 - Elizabeth is Mary's kinswoman. Some Bibles translate kinswoman as "cousin," but this is an improper translation because in Hebrew and Aramaic, there is no word for "cousin."
Luke 22:32 - Jesus tells Peter to strengthen his "brethren." In this case, we clearly see Jesus using "brethren" to refer to the other apostles, not his biological brothers.
Acts 1:12-15 - the gathering of Jesus' "brothers" amounts to about 120. That is a lot of "brothers." Brother means kinsmen in Hebrew.
Acts 7:26; 11:1; 13:15,38; 15:3,23,32; 28:17,21 - these are some of many other examples where "brethren" does not mean blood relations.
Rom. 9:3 - Paul uses "brethren" and "kinsmen" interchangeably. "Brothers" of Jesus does not prove Mary had other children.
Gen. 11:26-28 - Lot is Abraham's nephew ("anepsios") / Gen. 13:8; 14:14,16 - Lot is still called Abraham's brother (adelphos") . This proves that, although a Greek word for cousin is "anepsios," Scripture also uses "adelphos" to describe a cousin.
Gen. 29:15 - Laban calls Jacob is "brother" even though Jacob is his nephew. Again, this proves that brother means kinsmen or cousin.
Deut. 23:7; 1 Chron. 15:5-18; Jer. 34:9; Neh. 5:7 -"brethren" means kinsmen. Hebrew and Aramaic have no word for "cousin."
2 Sam. 1:26; 1 Kings 9:13, 20:32 - here we see that "brethren" can even be one who is unrelated (no bloodline), such as a friend.
2 Kings 10:13-14 - King Ahaziah's 42 "brethren" were really his kinsmen.
1 Chron. 23:21-22 - Eleazar's daughters married their "brethren" who were really their cousins.
Neh. 4:14; 5:1,5,8,10,14 - these are more examples of "brothers" meaning "cousins" or "kinsmen."
Tobit 5:11 - Tobit asks Azarias to identify himself and his people, but still calls him "brother."
Amos 1: 9 - brotherhood can also mean an ally (where there is no bloodline).
VI. Mary's Assumption into Heaven
Gen. 5:24, Heb. 11:5 - Enoch was bodily assumed into heaven without dying. Would God do any less for Mary the Ark of the New Covenant?
2 Kings 2:11-12; 1 Mac 2:58 - Elijah was assumed into heaven in fiery chariot. Jesus would not do any less for His Blessed Mother.
Psalm 132:8 - Arise, O Lord, and go to thy resting place, thou and the Ark (Mary) of thy might. Both Jesus and Mary were taken up to their eternal resting place in heaven.
2 Cor. 12:2 - Paul speaks of a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven. Mary was also brought up into heaven by God.
Matt. 27:52-53 - when Jesus died and rose, the bodies of the saints were raised. Nothing in Scripture precludes Mary's assumption into heaven.
1 Thess. 4:17 - we shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Rev. 12:1 - we see Mary, the "woman," clothed with the sun. While in Rev. 6:9 we only see the souls of the martyrs in heaven, in Rev. 12:1 we see Mary, both body and soul.
2 Thess. 2:15 - Paul instructs us to hold fast to oral (not just written) tradition. Apostolic tradition says Mary was assumed into heaven. While claiming the bones of the saints was a common practice during these times (and would have been especially important to obtain Mary's bones as she was the Mother of God), Mary's bones were never claimed. This is because they were not available. Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven.
VII. Mary's Coronation in Heaven
2 Tim 4:8 - Paul says that there is laid up for him the crown of righteousness. The saints are crowned in heaven, and Mary is the greatest saint of all.
James 1:12 - those will endure will receive the crown of life which God has promised. Mary has received the crown of life by bringing eternal life to the world.
1 Peter 5:4 - when the chief Shepherd is manifested we will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Rev. 2:10 - Jesus will give the faithful unto death the crown of life. Jesus gave Mary His Mother the crown of life.
Rev. 12:1 - Mary, the "woman," is crowned with twelve stars. She is Queen of heaven and earth and the Mother of the Church.
Wis. 5:16 - we will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord. Mary is with Jesus forever crowned in His glory.
VIII. Misunderstanding about Matthew 1:25 (Joseph knew her "not until")
Matt. 1:25 - this verse says Joseph knew her "not until ("heos", in Greek)" she bore a son. Some Protestants argue that this proves Joseph had relations with Mary after she bore a son. This is an erroneous reading of the text because "not until" does not mean "did not...until after." "Heos" references the past, never the future. Instead, "not until" she bore a son means "not up to the point that" she bore a son. This confirms that Mary was a virgin when she bore Jesus. Here are other texts that prove "not until" means "not up to the point that":
Matt. 28:29 - I am with you "until the end of the world." This does not mean Jesus is not with us after the end of the world.
Luke 1:80 - John was in the desert "up to the point of his manifestation to Israel." Not John "was in the desert until after" his manifestation.
Luke 2:37 - Anna was a widow "up to the point that" she was eighty-four years old. She was not a widow after eighty-four years old.
Luke 20:43 - Jesus says, "take your seat at my hand until I have made your enemies your footstool." Jesus is not going to require the apostles to sit at His left hand after their enemies are their footstool.
1 Tim. 4:13 - "up to the point that I come," attend to teaching and preaching. It does not mean do nothing "until after" I come.
Gen. 8:7 - the raven flew back and forth "up to the point that" [until] the waters dried from the earth. The raven did not start flying after the waters dried.
Gen. 28:15 - the Lord won't leave Jacob "up to the point that" he does His promise. This does not mean the Lord will leave Jacob afterward.
Deut. 34:6 - but "up to the point of today" no one knows Moses' burial place. This does not mean that "they did not know place until today."
2 Sam. 6:23 - Saul's daughter Micah was childless "up to the point" [until] her death. She was not with child after her death.
1 Macc. 5:54 - not one was slain "up to the point that" they returned in peace. They were not slain after they returned in peace.
IX. Misunderstanding about Romans 3:23 ("All have sinned")
Rom. 3:23 - Some Protestants use this verse "all have sinned" in an attempt to prove that Mary was also with sin. But "all have sinned " only means that all are subject to original sin. Mary was spared from original sin by God, not herself. The popular analogy is God let us fall in the mud puddle, and cleaned us up afterward through baptism. In Mary's case, God did not let her enter the mud puddle.
Rom. 3:23 - "all have sinned" also refers only to those able to commit sin. This is not everyone. For example, infants, the retarded, and the senile cannot sin.
Rom. 3:23 - finally, "all have sinned," but Jesus must be an exception to this rule. This means that Mary can be an exception as well. Note that the Greek word for all is "pantes."
1 Cor. 15:22 - in Adam all ("pantes") have died, and in Christ all ("pantes") shall live. This proves that "all" does not mean "every single one." This is because not all have died (such as Enoch and Elijah who were taken up to heaven), and not all will go to heaven (because Jesus said so).
Rom. 5:12 - Paul says that death spread to all ("pantes") men. Again, this proves that "all" does not mean "every single one" because death did not spread to all men (as we have seen with Enoch and Elijah).
Rom. 5:19 - here Paul says "many (not all) were made sinners." Paul uses "polloi," not "pantes." Is Paul contradicting what he said in Rom. 3:23? Of course not. Paul means that all are subject to original sin, but not all reject God.
Rom. 3:10-11 - Protestants also use this verse to prove that all human beings are sinful and thus Mary must be sinful. But see Psalm 14 which is the basis of the verse.
Psalm 14 - this psalm does not teach that all humans are sinful. It only teaches that, among the wicked, all are sinful. The righteous continue to seek God.
Psalm 53:1-3 - "there is none that does good" expressly refers to those who have fallen away. Those who remain faithful do good, and Jesus calls such faithful people "good."
Luke 18:19 - Jesus says, "No one is good but God alone." But then in Matt. 12:35, Jesus also says "The good man out of his good treasure..." So Jesus says no one is good but God, and then calls another person good.
Rom. 9:11 - God distinguished between Jacob and Esau in the womb, before they sinned. Mary was also distinguished from the rest of humanity in the womb by being spared by God from original sin.
Luke 1:47 - Mary calls God her Savior. Some Protestants use this to denigrate Mary. Why? Of course God is Mary's Savior! She was freed from original sin in the womb (unlike us who are freed from sin outside of the womb).
Luke 1:48 - Mary calls herself lowly. But any creature is lowly compared to God. For example, in Matt. 11:29, even Jesus says He is lowly in heart. Lowliness is a sign of humility, which is the greatest virtue of holiness, because it allows us to empty ourselves and receive the grace of God to change our sinful lives.
X. Misunderstandings about Jesus "rebuking" Mary
Matt. 12:48; Mark 3:33; Luke 8:21 - when Jesus asks, "Who are my mother, and sisters and brothers?," some Protestants argue that Jesus is rebuking Mary in order to denigrate her. To the contrary, when Jesus' comments are read in light of Luke 8:5-15 and the parable of the sower which Jesus taught right before His question, Jesus is actually implying that Mary has already received the word as the sower of good ground and is bearing fruit. Jesus is teaching that others must, like Mary, also receive the word and obey it.
Matt. 12:48; Mark 3:33; Luke 8:21 - Jesus' question about "who are my mother, and sisters and brothers" was also made in reference to Psalm 69:8-9. Jesus the Prophet was answering the psalmist's prophecy that those closest to Him would betray Him at His passion. Jesus is emphasizing the spiritual family's importance over the biological family, and the importance of being faithful to Him. While many were unfaithful to Jesus, Mary remained faithful to Him, even to the point of standing at the foot of the Cross.
Matt. 12:48; Mark 3:33; Luke 8:21 - finally, to argue that Jesus rebuked Mary is to argue that Jesus violated the Torah, here, the 4th commandment. This argument is blasphemous because it essentially says that God committed sin by dishonoring His Mother.
Luke 11:28 - when Jesus says, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it," some Protestants also call this a rebuke of Mary. Again, to the contrary, Jesus is exalting Mary by emphasizing her obedience to God's word as being more critical than her biological role of mother. This affirms Luke 1:48.
Luke 11:28 - also, the Greek word for "rather" is "menounge." Menounge really means "Yes, but in addition," or "Further." Thus, Jesus is saying, yes my mother is blessed indeed, but further blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Jesus is encouraging others to follow Mary's example in order to build up His kingdom.
Luke 11:27-28 - finally, Jesus is the one being complimented, not Mary. Therefore, Jesus is refocusing the attention from Him to others who obey the word of God. If He is refocusing the attention away from Him to others, His comment cannot be a rebuke of Mary His mother.
John 2:4 - this is another example that Protestants use to diminish Mary's significance. Jesus' question to Mary, "what have you to do with me?" does no such thing. To the contrary, Jesus' question illustrates the importance of Mary's role in the kingdom. Jesus' question is in reality an invitation to His mother to intercede on behalf of all believers and begin His ministry, and His Mother understands this. Mary thus immediately intercedes, Jesus obeys her, and performs the miracle which commenced His ministry of redemption.
Luke 8:28 - the demons tell Jesus the same thing, "what have you to do with us." The demons are not rebuking Jesus, for God would not allow it. Instead, the demons are acknowledging the power of Jesus by their question to Him.
John 2:4; 19:26 - when Jesus uses the title "woman" (gnyai), it is a title of dignity and respect. It is the equivalent of Lady or Madam. Jesus honored His Mother as God requires us to do.
NEXT, this is the text of a pamphlet that was put out many years ago originally, but overall it covers the subject. This† was authored by 2 priests who had a radio show, one in Australia, the other in the USA.
People sent in their questions, and the priests answered them on the air.† They were Fathers
Rumble and Carty.
Bible Quizzes to A Street
1. 1. In a pamphlet I just read the Catholic Church is charged with destroying the Bible.
Yes. The Church is accused of hating the Bible, destroying the Bible, keeping the Bible from the hands of the people, of burning it wherever and whenever she found it and of sealing it up in the dead language of Latin which the majority of people can neither read nor understand. And all this she does (so they say), because she knows that her doctrines are absolutely opposed to and contradicted by the letter of God's written Word, and that she holds to dogmas and creeds which could not stand one gleam of the searching light of Holy Scripture. But in reality the Bible was always available to the people and many editions appeared before the Reformation.
2. 2. Did not the great revolt against the Roman Church let the people see how they had been befooled and hoodwinked?
Many believe that putting the Bible into the hands of the people brought about the Reformation. The multiplicity of Christian religions was brought about by putting the Bible into the hands of the people without a proper interpreter of what the Scriptures were saying. The Bible was in the hands of the people long before the Reformation as you can observe through statements elsewhere in this pamphlet.
3. 3. Do real honest scholars believe the present-day Protestant statements against the Church for her attitude on the Bible?
Dr. S. R. Maitland, Protestant secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, explodes the common opinion of the masses who believe such charges because of tradition handed down to them from their forefathers since the "Reformation," by minister, teacher, and parents; through sermon, catechism, newspaper, radio, fiction, and history. They believe the tradition that monasteries and convents were sinks of iniquity and corruption; or that Catholics pay money to have their sins canceled, etc. The Protestant account of pre-Reformation Catholicism has been largely a falsification of history and all the good the Church did has been misconstrued, misjudged, misrepresented as Dr. Maitland and other students of history admit after their study of the documentary sources. It would be well for readers of this pamphlet to investigate and if they do they will come to the conclusion of the story, told about Charles the Second, the Merry Monarch of England. Charles the Second propounded to his learned and scientific men the following profound problem: "How is it that a dead fish weighs less than a living one?" The scholars discussed the grave difficulty and wrote long articles to win the favor of their Royal inquisitor, but they came to no satisfactory solution of the problem. Finally, it occurred to one of the scientists to test whether a dead fish does weigh less than a living one; and, of course, he discovered the lie or the joke; for the fish weighed exactly the same, dead or living. People act in the same gullible manner when treating statements concerning the oldest Christian Church in the world. It would be well to investigate and you will soon remove the mountains of abuse, calumny, and false supposition.
4. 4. The books in our public library give testimony that your Church is the enemy of the Bible.
By a calm consideration of the facts of history and a mind open to conviction on genuine Catholic and non-Catholic evidence, you will admit by sheer force of honesty that the Catholic Church is not the enemy of the Bible for she has been the parent, the author and maker of the Bible; she has guarded it and defended it all through the ages against those who would destroy the Bible; she has ever held it in esteem and has refused to allow the fallible brain of man to tamper with the Bible; she has grounded her doctrines upon the Bible; she, of all the Christian Churches in the world has the right to call the Bible HER OWN BOOK; she can boast to the world that she alone possesses the true Bible and the whole Bible of not 66 books but 73 books, and that copies of the Scriptures outside the Church are partly incomplete and partly defective and that whatever in them is true, is true because it comes from the Bible which the Church preserved from the days of the Apostles who were the authors of the New Testament.
5. 5. We can have a Bible without a Church.
You cannot, for common sense would tell you that what comes first is the Church and then her writings. We must not get the cart before the horse. The Jewish Church or Synagogue existed before Moses wrote a single line of the Old Testament and in the like manner the Catholic Church existed before a single line of the New Testament was written. Pentecost Day, the Birthday of Christianity, was not the coming down of the Holy Ghost in the form of a book, for there was no book as Johannes Jorgensen, the famous convert writer of Stockholm, Sweden, declares. The Holy Ghost came down in the form of tongues of fire symbolizing that Christianity was to be spread not through the written but the spoken word. It is reasonable that Divine Providence had the Jewish Synagogue to protect the Old Testament from mutilation and it is logical and reasonable that the Church that gave the Bible to the world should be set up by God to preserve and perpetuate the inspired writings of the New Testament.
6. 6. Was the Bible given to the world by God?
The Bible was not served to the world all complete upon a golden platter as the Book of Mormon is supposed to have been served to the fifteen-year-old boy, Joseph Smith. It did not suddenly appear upon the earth through the instrumentality of angel or seraph, but it was written by men like ourselves who used a pen or reed and wrote on parchment in the original languages of the Orient. They were divinely inspired, but they were human beings chosen by God for the work.
7. 7. Was the Bible written all at once by one man?
NO. About 1500 years elapsed between the writing of Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament) and the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John (the last Book of the New Testament). The word Bible comes from the Greek plural word "biblia" which means "books". The Bible is not a single book but a number of books written at different times by different men. If you lived at the time Moses died all that could be given to you of the Bible was the first five books of the Old Testament, written by Moses himself. His writings formed the first record of the inspired Word.
8. 8. In what language was the Bible written?
It will not be out of place to say here that the Bible wasn't written originally in English as so many seem to believe, judging from their arguments. Some believe that the Scriptures were written first in English and then set forth in the barbarous languages of Latin, Greek or Hebrew for the sake of inquisitive scholars and critics. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament was translated into Greek, before the time of Christ by 70 translators.
9. 9. When was the Old Testament compiled?
The fact that the Old Testament was already translated into Greek more than 100 years before Christ, indicates that the original Hebrew text existed long before that time.
10. 10. What do you mean by the Septuagint Bible?
Because of the "Dispersion" of the Jews and their growing familiarity with Greek which was then the universal language, it was necessary to furnish the Jews with a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament in the Greek language. The first Greek translation was done by 70 translators, who worked at Alexandria. Septuagint means 70 in Latin hence the name of that first Greek version. Our Lord and the Apostles used this version whenever they referred to the Scriptures. It contained the Catholic number of Old Testament books, namely 46 and not merely 39, as found today in the Protestant Bibles. The Septuagint version used by Christ and the Apostles was begun about 280 years before Christ and finished in the next century. It was the acknowledged Bible of all the "Jews of the Dispersion" in Asia, as well as in Egypt, and it was used not only by Christ, His Apostles and Evangelists but by Jews and Gentiles and Christians in the early days of Christianity. It is from this list of 46 books that Christ and the New Testament writers and speakers quote when referring to the Old Testament. Of the 350 quotations of the Old Testament found in the New Testament, 300 are taken directly from the Greek Septuagint Bible. Pope, the Biblical scholar in his "Aids to the Bible," i., 54, mentions 18 passages, citing Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus and Judith books rejected by the reformers. The early Christians of Rome were acquainted with the 7 books rejected by Protestants, for the frescoes of the Catacombs picture Susanna and the elders as well as Moses and Jonas. The writers of the first three centuries often quote or allude to the books eliminated from the Protestant Version.
11. 11. What books are not found in the Protestant Bible?
They are Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and the two Books of Machabees, together with fragments of Esther (10:4; 16:24), and Daniel (3:24-90; 13; 14). These books were contained in the Alexandrian List or Canon of Books which was used by the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, Asia Minor, Greece and Italy.
12. 12. Well it may be that the clergy knew the Scriptures but certainly the lay people did not.
The usual statement is that it was a closed and sealed volume to the poor lay people, because it was found only in the Dead Language of Latin. Dr. Maitland declared that all civil and historical as well as religious writings were saturated with Scripture when he says of the writers of the Middle Ages, "They thought and spoke and wrote the thoughts and words and phrases of the Bible . . . not exclusively in theological or ecclesiastical matters, but in histories, biographies, familiar letters, legal instruments, and documents of every description." How many lawyers, doctors, professors, and lay folk of today quote the Scriptures? We have millions of copies of the Bible and they had but the common Bible of the monastery or parish church. The Catholic Church had to do the best she could in the circumstances of those days before the discovery of printing and she did a marvelous job. Vast numbers could not read and the Church was not to blame for that. Latin was not a dead language, but the universal language of all who could read. For those who could not read, the Church had the medium of art, sculpture, Passion and Miracle Plays, to teach the people the contents of Christian doctrine. The evidence brought out by the Protestant scholar, Dr. Maitland, gives the lie to those who hold the Church despised, hid, and dishonored the Bible.
13. 13. In your Church doing anything to encourage Catholics to study the Bible?
The Church is trying to get Catholics to read and study the Bible by granting them indulgences for doing so. On a page in front of the Old Testament or else in front of the New Testament you will find printed these words, "An indulgence of 300 days is granted to all the faithful who read the Holy Gospels at least a QUARTER OF AN HOUR. A plenary indulgence under the usual conditions is granted once a month for the daily reading." Certainly, this does not look as though the Church was striving to keep the Bible out of the hands of the people.
14. 14. Were the people acquainted with the Bible in the Dark Ages?
The Dark Ages were not Dark but they were the AGES OF FAITH. Protestants in general have the false notion that from the eighth to the fifteenth century, the centuries were the ages of ignorance, oppression, superstition and what not. The people were supposed to be in that period illiterate, immoral, half civilized and constantly at war like barbarians. All this chaos of darkness was attributed to the blighting yoke of Rome which held the masses in ignorance of the Word of God. The light of the Reformation shone out in this darkness and gave light and freedom to these European masses. No, the Dark Ages were ages full of light in comparison to what 400 years of Protestantism have brought upon the world, which has been deformed instead of reformed.
Two centuries from now writers can call our twentieth century the century of injustice, misery, free love, debauchery, banditry, drunkenness, dishonesty, immorality, unbelief, etc., compared to which the so-called Dark Ages can be termed the Holy Ages. The Dark Ages built the gorgeous Cathedrals, and Abbeys whose architecture has not been rivaled by any architectural genius of the twentieth century of progress and high education. Look at the terrible contrast between the paintings of our century and those of the Dark Ages. Are our universities producing philosophers, thinkers of perennial thought like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, and Albertus Magnus and Scotus and Bacon? Has this age a scholastic system that betters that of the Schoolmen, whose method of learning and thinking is now being imitated in our universities after years of shunting true education? An age which produced such sociologists as Francis Xavier, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, and a host of others could not be intellectually dark and barren of Scriptural lore. The practical teaching the people of those reputed dark days received from priests and monks in church and school was of far more real moral and intellectual value than what our youth is getting today. The mediaevalists had the knowledge of God in their souls and that is why the Protestant scholar, Dr. Maitland, writes in such high praise of the Dark Ages. His book on the Dark Ages will show that it is the Middle Ages which have been a closed and sealed book to Protestants. His impartial scholarship unlocks the treasures of those grand centuries. On page 469 in his "Dark Ages" he writes, "The fact is . . . the writings of the Dark Ages are, if I may use the expression, made of the Scriptures." Another Protestant historian says, "The notion that Bible-reading was frowned upon by ecclesiastical authorities of that age is quite unfounded." Proof is quite abundant that the Church made ample use of the Bible in instructing the people before the Reformation. The Mass is almost all Scripture and at every Mass it was customary to read a portion of Scripture and explain it to the people. The people were asked to stand in respect for the Holy Word of God whilst the Gospel was read to them. Sermons of the Middle Ages abound with more Scriptural quotations than are heard from the pulpits of today. The divine office or breviary said each day by the clergy is made up from the Bible. The Rosary was another Bible in the hands of the people for this pious devotion taught the Catholics to meditate on the Biblical mysteries. The fundamentals of the New Testament teaching are meditated on when the Rosary is properly said. Before the printed Bible came, the Church instructed people through, "Miracle and Passion Plays." If the Church kept the Bible from the people, how explain the intimate knowledge of the Scriptures on the part of Chaucer, Dante, Shakespeare and other Christian authors? How explain the statement of Ruskin that the walls of St. Markís at Venice were the poor man's Bible? How could Michelangelo, Murillo, Raphael and other Catholic sculptors and artists portray on canvas and in stone such Biblical scenes if the Church kept the Bible from the people?
15. 15. Were the clergy of the Dark Ages ignorant of the Bible?
They had a profound knowledge and understanding of the Bible, for Bishops and Abbots required all their priests to know the Scriptures. In the old Constitutions of different dioceses we find that the clergy were obliged to know the Psalms, the Epistles, and Gospels. The Council of Toledo, 835, issued a decree that Bishops were bound to inquire throughout their dioceses whether the clergy were sufficiently instructed in the Scriptures. The documentary history, as Dr. Maitland shows, proves that multitudes of ordinary priests and Bishops had the Scriptures on their lips. Abbots caused the whole of the Old and New Testament to be read through every year, and they had the Scriptures read daily during meals in monasteries. Sermons of today are valueless because they are like fishing nets without fish, whilst sermons of the reputed Dark Ages are invaluable because they are like fishing nets overloaded with fish as a result of their incessant Scriptural quotations. What a silly legend it is for modern pamphleteers to be still stating that Martin Luther first discovered by accident the Scriptures, a book which, as a monk, he was bound to have known and studied and recited for years! No modern minister can equal the priest of the Middle Ages in knowledge and familiarity with the written Word of God.
16. 16. Was Martin Luther the first one to translate the Bible into the language of the people?
No. The Bible had been translated into Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Norwegian, Polish, Bohemian and Hungarian long before Martin Luther gave out his Lutheran Bible. Seven hundred years before the birth of Luther we had an English translation. At the end of the seventh century we have in the English tongue the work of Caedmon, a monk of Whitby. In the next century we have the well-known translation of Venerable Bede, a monk of Jarrow. The Preface of the Authorized Version refers to previous translations of the Scriptures into the language of the people and after speaking of the Greek and Latin Versions, it says, "The Godly learned were not content to have the Scriptures in the language which they themselves understood, Greek and Latin . . . but also for the behoof and edifying of the unlearned which hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and had souls to be saved as well as they. They provided translations into the Vulgar for their countrymen, insomuch that most nations under Heaven did shortly after their conversion hear Christ speaking unto them in their Mother tongue, not by the voice of their minister only but also by the written Word translated."
17. 17. When did Lutherís Bible come out?
It came out in 1520 and before his Bible appeared there were exactly 104 editions of the Bible in Latin; there were 9 before the birth of Luther in the German language, and there were 27 in German before the Lutheran Bible appeared. Before the Protestant Bible appeared there were already in Italy more than 40 editions and 25 of these were in the Italian language with the express permission of Rome. In France there were 18 editions before 1547. Spain began her editions in 1478. In all, 626 editions of the Bible with 198 in the language of the laity, had been edited before the first Protestant Bible was sent forth into the world. With all this evidence why should there be those intellectuals who declare that the Church despised the Bible? This testimony shows that the Church fought to preserve it, translate it, and multiply it. She saved it from utter destruction at the hands of infidels; she saved it from total extinction by guarding it as the greatest treasure of all ages.
18. 18. Why did the Church keep the Bible in Latin until the Reformation gave the people the Bible in the vernacular?
The usual belief is that the Church kept the Bible in Latin so that the masses could not read it, and thereby discover the wiles of priestcraft. That nobody but priests could read the Bible is nonsense. There were just two classes of people in the Middle Ages: those who could read, and those who could not read. Those who could read Latin and were perfectly content with the Scriptures in Latin, and those who could not read Latin could not read at all. So why should the Church prior to the spread of education in the vernacular translate the Bible from Latin for them? Latin was then the language of all cultured men and it was the common language of Europe. Students heard their lectures in Latin and they talked Latin. Retreats to nuns were preached in Latin and they understood the discourses. Hence, Latin was not a dead language but a living one. If the Church desired to keep the Bible from the people then why did the Church translate the Bible out of Greek into Latin and call the Vulgate Version of the fourth century the "Bible of the People"?
19. 19. Did the Catholic Church burn all Bibles, and punish those who had copies?
No. The Catholic Church would have been very stupid to have copies multiplied by her monks and nuns only to destroy them. She did burn Bibles that were counterfeits of the Bible, such as the Coverdale, Tyndale, and Wycliffe Bibles. When the printing press was invented by the German Catholic Gutenberg called in English (Gooseflesh) the first book ever printed in the world was the Bible and that was in 1445, 80 years before Protestantism had been heard of.
20. 20. Yet does not the Catholic Church scoff at Bible societies as dangerous to Christianity?
She condemns the principle that Bibles should be peddled indiscriminately to people on the understanding that they will be able to ascertain the truth without the guidance of the Church, and by their own unaided efforts. The wildest fanatical religions have resulted in America from the theory of private judgment or interpretation of Scripture, and if it is not dangerous to Christianity to have a new pretended Christian Church arising every 10 years from some madcap reading of an isolated text, what is really dangerous to Christianity? The fact that 60 millions or more of Americans have no church affiliation whatsoever today is due to madcap readings of the Bible. In the City of Chicago recently the newspapers took an account of all those who went to Church on Sunday within the confines of the city. The final count showed that 85 percent of the Sunday Churchgoers went into Catholic Churches and the remaining 15 percent went into Protestant Churches and Jewish Synagogues. Hence, the multiplication of Bible societies creates agnosticism, indifferentism, for truth cannot be divided.
21. 21. Does your Church prohibit the reading of Scripture in the vernacular?
No. There are various Catholic societies for the diffusion of the Holy Gospels in the vernacular, such as the Society of St. Jerome, approved by the Church. In the front of every Catholic Bible you will find that Pope Leo XIII, on December 13, 1898, granted "An indulgence of 300 days to all the faithful who read the Holy Gospels at least a quarter of an hour. A plenary indulgence under the usual conditions is granted once a month for the daily reading." Well, this doesnít look like keeping the people ignorant of the Word of God. The following letter of His Holiness Pius VI to the Most Rev. Anthony Martini, on his Translation of the Holy Bible into Italian, shows the benefit which the faithful may reap from their having the Holy Scriptures in the Vulgar Tongue, "At a time that a vast number of bad books, which most grossly attack the Catholic Religion, are circulated, even among the unlearned, to the great destruction of souls, you judge exceedingly well, that the faithful should be EXCITED TO THE READING of the Holy Scriptures; for these are the most abundant sources which ought to be left open to everyone to draw from them purity of morals and of doctrine, to eradicate the errors which are so widely disseminated in these corrupt times, etc."
22. 22. Then why did Pope Clement XI, in 1713, condemn the doctrine that the Bible is for all to read?
He did not condemn the doctrine that it is good to read Scripture. He merely condemned the theory that it is necessary to do so in order to know what is Christianity. Christ's method was to establish a teaching Church, it being necessary to be taught by that Church. He did not order the Apostles to peddle Bibles. If the reading of Scripture were necessary to salvation, Christ would have written a book instead of giving the commission to His Apostles to teach, adding: "He that heareth you, heareth me." And before the discovery of printing could Christ make the possibility of His religion dependent upon that discovery by John Gutenberg? How about the illiterate and the unlearned of all history? It is absurd to make the Printed Page the Pope of religion. Pope Clement XI wisely condemned the proposition that the reading of Scripture is necessary to all.
23. 23. Have you a correct translation of the Bible?
Yes. We have one that is recognized by Protestant scholars as being a substantially true translation. A Catholic is forbidden to read those Protestant Versions in which there are many mistranslations and in which the text is often distorted to suit the enemies of the Catholic Church. Counterfeit texts are no longer the Word of God.
24. 24. You Catholics seem afraid that Catholics will be harmed by the reading of Scripture.
Even granted a most perfect and correct version, thousands of people have been harmed by the reading of Scripture, thinking themselves capable of interpreting it aright. The Pharisees read Scripture, yet managed to use, or misuse, quotations from the Bible as an argument against Christ, just as men today quote Scripture as an argument against the true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church.
25. 25. You say that you have a Bible and that Catholics can read the Bible, but do they do so?
Some do and some don't. All are free to do so, but it is not absolutely necessary that they should give themselves to the private reading of Scripture.
26. 26. I know many Catholics who have no Bible in their homes.
Catholics are quite free to possess and read approved versions of the Bible; good Catholics will see to it that they have in their homes the One Book given to the world by God.
27. 27. I have known Catholics to admit that they have never read the Bible, so why doesnít the Catholic Church teach it to them?
The doctrines of the Bible are taught to her people by the Catholic Church more faithfully than by any other Church on earth. The Bible tells us that Christ is God and this, Protestant ministers in growing numbers deny. The Bible tells us that Christ established a living, visible Church and this Protestants deny. The Bible tells us that the consecrated bread and wine is the true Body and Blood of our Lord and this Protestants deny. The Bible tells us that Christ's ministers of reconciliation have the power to forgive sins and this Protestants refuse to believe. The Bible condemns divorce even in the case of adultery and this Protestants by practice consider as nonsense. Catholics know more fundamental doctrine than the man who, parrot-like, can quote the Bible. Knowledge of text is not knowledge of doctrine. Some Catholics do not read the Bible very much, but they know the doctrines taught by the Bible more clearly than any other Christian people on earth. A Catholic may be at a loss when you quote some particular text, but he knows clearly what must be done to save one's soul and he knows all that Christ condemns; namely, divorce, birth prevention, mercy killings, sterilization, prohibition, the injustices of Capital and Labor, etc.
28. 28. You must admit that Protestants love the Scriptures more than Catholics.
How can they when they slaughter all the doctrines taught by Christ?
29. 29. Protestants have a true copy of the Bible.
How can they when they cut out seven books from the Old Testament; namely, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the two Books of Machabees, and the various sections of other Books. They have many errors in their supposedly true copy of the Bible.
30. 30. Do you accuse the Protestant translators of grossly infamous conduct in tampering with the text?
I absolutely do. Dixon, in his "Introduction to Scripture" says, "That the early Protestant translations were full of gross errors no unprejudiced Protestant will now deny, and that these errors were willful, Ward, in his ĎErrata,í satisfactorily proves." Blunt, in his "Key to the Knowledge and Use of the Bible" says, "The characters of the translators were not such as to command the respect of men." Robert Gell writes that "Truth was often outvoted. Dogmatic interests were in some cases allowed to bias the translation. The Calvinism of one party, the prelatic views of another, were both represented at the expense of accuracy."
31. 31. Is not the Douay Version poorer in English than the Protestant Version?
The Douay Version is not a version deliberately accommodated to Catholic teaching. It is a substantially true Version which, because true, necessarily indicates the Catholic Church as the true Church. For that is the truth of Scripture. From a literary point of view, it is a less beautiful translation than that of the Authorized Version, because it is a more exact translation. When a foreign language, classical or modem, is translated into English, the more one clings to the text, the less purely literary beauty one attains in the new language. To obtain a more beautiful rendering one must translate more freely, thus more or less forfeiting the exact sense of the original. But in the matter of God's Word, we want, not so much literary beauty, but just what God intended. And for that, the Douay Version far surpasses the Authorized Version, despite its rather awkward literary structure at times.
32. 32. It is much better to have the Bible out of the hands of Rome.
Henry VIII himself will answer that for you in his last pathetic speech to Parliament: "I am extremely sorry to find how much the Word of God is abused; with how little reverence it is mentioned; how it is turned into wretched rhymes, sung and jangled in every ale house and tavern; and all this in a false construction and countermeaning to the inspired writers. I am sorry to perceive the readers of the Bible discover so little of it in their practice; for I am sure charity was never in a more languishing condition, virtue never at a lower ebb, nor God Himself less honored or worse served in Christendom." Due to taking the Bible out of the hands of Rome by the end of the sixteenth century we find 270 sects and because of this, Dr. Walton writes in the Preface to his own Polyglot Bible, "There is no fanatic or clown from the lowest dregs of the people who does not give you his own dreams as the Word of God. For the bottomless pit seems to have been set open from whence a smoke has risen which has obscured the heavens and the stars, and locusts are come out with wings - a numerous race of sectarians and heretics, who have renewed all the old heresies, and invented monstrous opinions of their own. These have filled our cities, villages, camps, houses - nay, our churches and pulpits, too, and lead the poor deluded people with them to the pit of perdition."
33. 33. Is not the Catholic Church arrogant in claiming the Bible as her own?
The Bible is her book and you cannot disprove it. She has preserved it and she alone knows what it means. No one else has any right to it whatsoever, or any authority to declare what the texts mean. The work of translating it, of printing it, and editing it, belongs strictly to her alone and if she cannot prevent those outside her jurisdiction from tampering with it and misusing it then she will take care that her own children must avoid perusal of counterfeit Bibles. History shows that the Church has been wise in prohibiting private persons from translating the Bible without ecclesiastical authority. For instance, look at what Judge Rutherford has done with the Bible. The Church is very wise in prohibiting the faithful from reading Bibles that are not approved by her, for she desires that the pure, uncorrupted Gospel should be placed into the hands of the people. Mr. Allnatt (in his "Bible and the Reformation") says, "That all the early Protestant versions of the Bible literally swarmed with gross and flagrant corruptions ó corruptions consisting in the willful and deliberate mistranslation of various passages of the sacred text, and all directly aimed against those doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church which the ĎReformersí were most anxious to uproot. They did give the people an ĎOpen Bible,í but what a Bible." Hence, to hate the Bible is one thing, and to prohibit a false version like the notorious Wycliffe, Tyndale and Coverdale Bibles is quite another.
34. 34. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is enough for me.
Which Bible? Have you the right Bible? Are you certain that your Bible contains all and only the true words that came down from the hands of Apostles and Evangelists? Are you positive that no other word has been inserted by man or dropped out deliberately by man? Have you an exact copy of the Holy Scriptures identical with the writings from Moses to St. John? If you haven't then why talk about the Bible and the Bible alone theory? How do you know the Bible came from God? Do you prove it by the intrinsic merit of the writings or do you rely upon the religious quality of the Scriptures as sufficient evidence? The intrinsic merit of the Bible and the inspiration it gives the reader is no argument that it has God as the author for we have other books as, for instance, "The Following of Christ," which is much more inspiring than some parts of the Bible. We know that the Bible is the Word of God, because the Catholic Church that gave the Bible to the world says so. You, to believe in the Bible, must admit some third party to come between you and God. The Catholic has as his third party, the Catholic Church which comes between him and God to tell him what's what about the Bible.
35. 35. The Lordís Prayer or the Our Father is in the Bible, but the Catholic prayer differs from the Protestant.
Protestants use a conclusion which was not in the original Greek copies of the New Testament, namely, "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen." Catholics say the Lordís Prayer properly, for the Protestant conclusion taken from the King James Version is a marginal gloss, put in there by some copyist, who had in mind words borrowed from the Greek liturgy. They were rejected as not authentic by St. Jerome in the fourth century, as they have been rejected by the authors of the Revised Version of 1881. Some versions put these words today in parentheses. Even the King James Version omits this gloss in Luke 11: 4. Such an addition was not uttered by Our Lord and that is why Catholics do not use it. This is an excellent example of how errors occur in the various copies made by old scribes. Pious Bible students may hold up their hands in horror and cry out, "There are no mistakes in the Bible. It is all inspired. It is God's own Book." Yes. But God never guaranteed that every individual scribe who took in hand the copying of the New Testament would never copy wrongly. The original Scripture is free from error because God is the author of the original.
36. 36. Are any of the original writings of Moses or Paul, or John in existence today?
No. None of the originals exist today, but we know from history and tradition that these were the books they wrote. What we have now is the printed Bible; but before the invention of printing in 1438, the Bible existed only in handwriting or manuscript form. We have in our possession now copies of the Bible in manuscript which date back as early as the fourth century. We have not the originals but copies of the originals for several reasons: (1) The persecutors of the Church for the first 300 years destroyed everything Christian they could lay their hands on. (2) The material upon which the inspired writers wrote was papyrus, a frail, brittle, perishable, substance not destined to last long. (3) When copies were made of the originals for the various Churches there was not the same necessity for preserving the originals. The early Christians certainly did not consider it necessary for salvation that the very handwriting of St. Paul, etc., should be preserved. Since they had the living, infallible Church to teach and guide them, they were content with mere COPIES of the original works of the authors. Manuscript or handwritten copies of the Bible known to be in existence number about 3,000 today. None have yet been found earlier than the fourth century.
37. 37. Why did Luther reject 7 books from the Bible?
Because they did not suit his new doctrines. He had arrived at the principle of private judgment-of picking and choosing religious doctrines; and whenever any book, such as the Book of Machabees, taught a doctrine contrary to his taste he rejected it overboard and overboard that book went because it says: 2 Mach. 12:46, "it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins." He not only cast out certain books, but he mutilated some that were left. For example, not pleased with St. Paul's doctrine, "we are justified by faith," Luther added the word "ALONE" to make the sentence read: "We are justified by faith alone." His explanation of this insertion is found in his own words, "I know very well that the word Ďaloneí is not in the Latin and Greek texts; but Dr. Martin Luther will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough." St. Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Luther creates a Lutheran Bible under his own audacity. He shows little respect for the Bible when he calls the Epistle of St. James "an Epistle of straw with no character of the Gospel in it." He spoke disparagingly about the Epistle of St. Jude, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the beautiful Apocalypse of St. John.
38. 38. Were there other writings besides the New Testament esteemed as Scripture?
Before 397 A. D. there were 3 classes of sacred writings being read in the Churches. First, there were the genuine writings accepted universally by the Christian Church which hailed this first group of writings as actually written by the Apostles whose names they bore. The second class of sacred writings, which were being used by the Churches, was the disputed class. In some places they were accepted as genuine Scripture and in other places they were not so accepted. In this second class, or disputed list, were St. James, St. Jude, the second Epistle of St. Peter, the second and third Epistle of St. John, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse). Then there was a third class of writings spread about, which was never accepted by any of the Churches as genuine Scripture, books which contained all sorts of fanciful stories or fables of the early life of Our Lord. In 397, the Catholic Church gave a definite decision as to which should be admitted into the Bible and which should be rejected, and every book which is in the Protestant New Testament today, was put there by Pope Siricius and the Catholic Bishops in the year 397 A. D. If Christ had intended that men should learn Christianity from the New Testament, what about the hundreds who lived before the first Bible was given to the world by the Catholic Church?
39. 39. You seem to undervalue the written Word of God.
No. I am simply showing the position it was meant to occupy in the Christian Church. It was written by the Church; it belongs to the Church and it is her prerogative to declare what it means. It is intended for enlightenment, meditation, spiritual reading, encouragement, exhortation, devotion, and it also gives testimony of the Churchís doctrines. It is not a complete guide to heaven.
40. 40. Is the Old Testament a civil and political history of the Jews?
No. It is their history as the Chosen People of God, chosen as the receivers and carriers of His progressive Revelation through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the Prophets. The Old and New Testaments can be called a great work of UNITY, since the Old Testament looks forward to the one central figure, the Messiah, Jesus Christ and the New Testament looks back to that Messiah.
41. 41. Didnít the Apostles intend to make the New Testament a compendium of Christian doctrine?
The books of the New Testament were produced as a result of special circumstances that arose among the converts. They were written to meet the particular demands and emergencies of the time. The authors never dreamed of writing the New Testament or composing works which would one day be taken as the sole rule of religion. The Apostles would stand dazed if told that what they wrote would one day be held up as the complete and exhaustive statement of Christian doctrines. No writings were ever intended to be used as an easy guide in faith and morals, independent of any living and teaching authority to interpret them. St. Paul himself says, "How shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they preach unless they be sent? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ." When the Apostles speak they claim to speak with Divine authority and they nowhere claim to be laying down a system of Christian doctrine. Their teaching was at first ORAL, and it was no part of their intention to create a permanent literature. They wrote to believers, not to unbelievers. The Church existed and functioned before they wrote anything. Before a line in the New Testament was written (1) Christ established His Church; (2) the Apostles preached Christís Gospel; (3) St. Peter converted 3,000 Jews; (4) Council of Jerusalem was assembled; (5) Jewish ceremonial law was abrogated.
Before the last book in the New Testament was written (1) the Catholic Church celebrated her golden jubilee; (2) 11 of the Apostles had died.
Hence, THE BIBLE CAME FROM THE CHURCH. THE CHURCH DID NOT COME FROM THE BIBLE. Christianity existed over 300 years without one single Bible Christian.
42. 42. Did Jesus Christ write any of the New Testament?
Our Blessed Lord Himself never, so far as we know, wrote a line of Scripture. He never told His Apostles to write anything, and He certainly did not command them to commit to writing what He had revealed to them. He never said, "Go and write," but He did say, "Go ye and teach all nations," "Preach the Gospel to every creature," "He that heareth you heareth Me." He, therefore, commanded them to do just what He was doing; namely, delivering the Word of God to the people by the living voice - by which they were to convince, persuade, instruct, and convert. Faith was to be won by hearing, not by reading. Christ did not entrust His message to a dead book which might perish and be destroyed, mutilated, counterfeited, misinterpreted by man.
The very action of Christ proves that the Word of God was to be preserved by a Living Tradition and not by a Written Message.
43. 43. What is the Protestant and Catholic position on the Bible?
The Protestant, believing in Christ, holds that He left no authoritatively teaching Church, but only the Bible, which each individual may read and interpret for himself on the principle of "private judgment." All churches are manmade. No one of them was founded by Christ. The Catholic, believing in Christ, holds that He founded an authoritative Church which has the right to guide all her members in matters of faith and morals. The Catholic believes the Church is infallible and cannot make a mistake or teach error. The Catholic goes to the Church as his immediate Guide and Teacher. The Catholic believes in the Bible and Tradition, whilst the Protestant believes in the Bible alone.
44. 44. What is the difference between the Hebrew, Protestant, and Catholic Bibles?
The Hebrew Bible contains only books of the Old Testament, since the orthodox, reformed, or liberal Jew does not accept our Lord as the Messiah. The Palestinian Jews had 39 books in the Old Testament and the Alexandrian Jews and the Jews of Dispersion had 46 books in their Bible. The Protestant Bible contains in the Old Testament, 39 books of the Palestinian Jews and the 27 books of the New Testament, 66 books in all. The Catholic Bible contains 46 books of the Alexandrian Canon or list of Old Testament books and the 27 books of the New Testament, 73 books in all.
45. 45. Besides the difference of numbers of books is there any other difference between Catholic and Protestant Bibles?
Serious difference is in the accuracy of translation. Protestant preachers and Bishops have written volumes to point out the errors in the King James Version and the Revised Version. In a convention of ministers at St. Louis, Mo., some years ago, a Presbyterian minister urged the necessity of a new translation of the Protestant Bible and held that there were no less than 30,000 errors. Another difference is the titles of books: "Canticle of Canticles" for "Solomon's Song," "Apocalypse" for "Book of Revelation . . . . . First and Second Kings," for "First and Second Samuel," etc.
46. 46. Why are the names in the Protestant Bible spelled differently from those in the Catholic Bible?
The Protestant version has, for instance, Nebuchadnezzar, the Catholic Nabuchodonosor. The Protestant forms follow the Hebrew, the vocalized text of which was fixed by the Massoretes between the fifth and seventh centuries after Christ; the Catholic forms follow the Greek which was fixed about the second century before Christ. The Catholic spelling has been in some cases confirmed by archeological discoveries.
47. 47. You say the Church came before the Bible.
YES. The books of the New Testament were scattered around the Mediterranean civilization for 300 years before the writings were gathered up and compiled into one collection. It is a fact of history that the Council of Carthage (397 A. D. ) settled the Canon Table of Contents of the New Testament as we Catholics have them today.
48. 48. Was there ever a collection of the Scriptures before 397?
We find lists of books of the New Testament drawn up by St. Athanasius, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and many other authorities, but their lists do not correspond perfectly to the collection we possess now. It was the Council of Carthage (397 A.D.) that settled all doubts on the canon or list of books which all Christendom had until the Reformers changed that list. If other lists of books existed before 397, then the action of the Council of Carthage teaches the world that the Catholic Church selected, sifted, and stamped with her authority the Scriptures of the New Law. It is through the Catholic Church that Protestants get their Bible. Imagine what standing Protestantism would have if the Catholic Church were indeed the enemy of the Bible and had destroyed all manuscripts in the days of the infant Church.
49. 49. What do you mean by Inspiration of the Bible? Does God act as the author of every word written?
Inspiration means the fact that God as the author of each and every book of the Bible did not take away from Moses, David, Isaias, the Apostles, etc., anything at all except the power to write something God did not want them to write. Moses, for instance, could not write what God did not want him to write or in a way God did not want him to write. His writing was controlled by God, yet it still left him a free human agent and author. God allowed freedom of style to each writer, but God was responsible for each and everything the writer wrote. God may inspire the very words they use, but this is not essential to the motion of inspiration. We may hold, for example, that Moses is the author of the first 5 books of the Bible, but the Biblical Commission tells us that we are not bound to believe that Moses wrote or dictated everything himself. Writing under inspiration he may have "committed it to one or more to write, yet in such a way that they should faithfully express his meaning, write nothing or omit nothing against his will, and that the work. . . approved by Moses, the chief inspired author, should be published in his name."
50. 50. What do you mean by the Vulgate Edition?
Translations of the Bible were made into Latin, Armenian, Syriac and Coptic, Arabic and Ethiopic for the benefit of Christians in these lands. Latin first appeared in 150 A. D. and other translations into Latin later. The best and grandest Latin version was made by St. Jerome and this was called the "Vulgate" - that is, the common, or current or accepted version. St. Jerome, who was a monk, and the most learned scholar of his day, at the request of Pope St. Damasus in 382 A. D. made his fresh Latin translations correcting the existing Latin versions with the Greek manuscripts he could find.
51. 51. Is the Vulgate the official version of your Church?
St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate is the official text in the Catholic Church, and all Protestant and Catholic scholars admit it to be the best down to the Reformation. The Council of Trent, in 1546, issued a decree, stamping it as the only recognized and authoritative version allowed to Catholics. The English Douay Version comes from the Vulgate.
52. 52. The Bible was not printed in any language until 1500 years after the birth of Christ.
How could it when there was no such thing as printing? What would happen to the Protestant principle "the Bible and the Bible alone," if printing were never discovered? If we lived before Mr. John Gutenberg discovered the art of printing in the fifteenth century we should have to read manuscripts of some monk or nun who wrote out a copy of the Bible on pages of parchment or vellum. Are we to convert the world by peddling printed Bibles to the heathen and unconverted sinners? How about those who lived before the Bible was printed? How were nations made familiar with Christianity before the discovery of printing? Christ desired to save those who lived before printing was discovered as well as those who lived after its discovery. If the reading of the Bible is the only medium of salvation, how about those who cannot read and those who are too poor to buy one?
THE BLUNDERING BLUNDER OF ALL HISTORY is that people fail to understand that for the first 300 years of Christianity there was not one single BIBLE CHRISTIAN in the world and that they do not sufficiently realize, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the fact that the Bible was not multiplied in printed copies until 1,400 years after Christ.
53. 53. Do all ministers believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?
No. Professor G. H. Betts, of the Northwestern University, not long ago sent out a list of 56 questions on religion and theology to 1,309 Protestant ministers then in active service, and to 5 Protestant theological seminaries. Between 700 and 800 ministers replied, and also a large number of students in the 5 seminaries. Here are the results concerning the Bible as published by Prof. Betts, himself a Protestant, 2 percent of the Lutheran ministers, 38 percent of the Baptist ministers, 56 percent of the Presbyterian ministers, 60 percent of the Episcopalian ministers, 65 percent of the Methodist ministers, 83 percent of the Congregational ministers, and 92 percent of the students denied or doubted the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. In view of this astounding revelation we see who, indeed, is the enemy of the Bible.
54. 54. Protestant sects claim to be founded on the Bible, and the Bible alone. THEN WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE SO MANY OF THEM?
It is just because there are so many different interpretations as to what the Bible means. It is the sad result of the doctrine of the right of private judgment. Every Protestant denomination claims to be founded on the Scriptures. Then how can they all be right? Is the Methodist right, or the Lutheran, or the Baptist or the Episcopalian? They can't be right for they all differ in doctrine and government. If they do not differ, then why are they separated? Protestantism says, "Let each one read the Bible for himself and then the Holy Ghost will guide him into the truth." Well, then the Holy Ghost must be blamed for the Babylon of religions around us. If the Holy Ghost guides one man he becomes a Baptist, if he guides another he becomes something else and so on until people give up religion entirely. The Holy Ghost inspires no one using his own private interpretation. The Holy Ghost was guaranteed to the Church and not to individuals in the teaching of truth.
By way of analogy, suppose our Constitution of the United States could be termed our Bible of Democracy. Just think what confusion would happen if every Tom, Dick, and Harry using the right of private judgment interpreted the laws of our nation as he felt himself inspired by the Holy Ghost. See what would soon happen to our 48 states if we didn't have the Supreme Court to tell us what the Constitution is saying. Without the Supreme Court our nation would come to an end as a democracy if we tolerated in government the absurd and fallacious principle of private judgment. As we must maintain a Supreme Court in government is it not all the more rational and reasonable that we have a Supreme Authority to interpret the Bible, our Constitution of Christianity, to avoid religious confusion? The proper authority to interpret the Bible is the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church, which gave the Bible to the world.
55. 55. Was Luther responsible for the private judgment theory?
Yes. It was inaugurated by him and shortly after, when he saw the numerous sects growing and multiplying, he said in his Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423), "If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith."
56. 56. Did Luther ever acknowledge the danger of private judgment?
He says this, as quoted in "An Meine Kritiker" (by Johannes Jorgensen, p. 181), "There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit Baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams." We have over 60 millions of Americans quite indifferent to the doctrines of their Protestant ancestors precisely because -- "In Religion, What damned error, but some sober-brow Will bless it, and approve it with a text?"
57. 57. Some books speak of 72 books and others speak of 73 books in the Catholic Bible.
Some editors unite the Prophecies of Jeremias with the Lamentations of Jeremias and make one book out of both, thereby accounting for 72 books, and other editors separate Jeremias and Lamentations entirely into two books making thereby 73 books.
58. 58. Where do you get the statement that Luther discovered the Bible?
In the Lutheran World Almanac and Annual Encyclopedia for 1923, you will find the hoary falsehood running thus: The "incomparable Luther" gave to the world "The Open Bible. . ." "In the university he discovered a chained Latin Bible," the study of which "brought him the peace of mind which he craved the assurance of justification and of salvation by faith alone, without the works of the law. . ." That there was a "chained" Latin Bible in the university is very likely. Even today public telephone books are chained for the purpose of keeping them in their proper place. Bibles were chained down to the pulpit, rostrum or monastery table, for there were thieves in those days as there are thieves today. The Church chained the Bible not to keep the Bible from but for the people. A Bible in those days, declares the Protestant scholar, Dr. Maitland, would cost anywhere from $1,000 up, because it was a manuscript copy made on costly parchment or vellum. You will find Bibles still chained down today in churches on the continent of the Old World, in monasteries, and twentieth century museums for obvious reasons. That Luther had access to the Bible in his youth is attested by himself in his "Table Talks" (ed. 1566, p. 22). "When I was young, I acquainted myself with the Bible, read the same often, so that I knew where any reference was contained and could be found when anyone spoke about it."
59. 59. The Gospel of Christ is simplicity itself.
In one way it is. It tells us clearly that Christ established a definite Church which He commissioned to teach all nations. It is very simple from this point of view, for men have but to accept the Catholic Church, and be taught by that Church. But the Gospel is not simplicity itself in the way you intend. Men have devoted their lives to the study of the Gospels, preparing themselves for the task by profound research in the Hebrew, Syrian, Arabic, Greek, and Latin languages. And even then, many passages are most difficult to understand.
60. 60. But at least the plan of salvation can he understood by the simplest person. We Protestants even tell our children to read their Bibles in order to discern it.
According to the findings of your simple readers there must be hundreds of conflicting plans of salvation, all revealed by the one Christ. As for the capacity of your children, you might as well give them the article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on "Spectroscopic Analysis" as the subject matter of their studies. But the Bible itself is against your theory. Thus, St. Peter says that in Scripture there are certain things "hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." 2 Pet. 3:16. To his mind the private interpretation of Scripture can be most dangerous.
61. 61. God has given us brains to think for ourselves. We do not need help to understand Scripture.
God had given men brains before He came to teach them Himself, and He came to teach them precisely because their brains could not succeed in finding out the things which were to their peace. If you say that His revealed teachings in the Scriptures together with our brains are enough, those very revealed teachings tell you that they are not. Even in the Old Law, God said, "The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth." Mal. 2:7. In the New Law, Christ sent His Church to teach men, transferring to His Church that authority of God once possessed by the priests of the Old Law. In the New Testament itself, we find Philip the Deacon saying to the Ethiopian, who was reading the Scriptures, "Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest?" and the Ethiopian replying, "And how can I unless some man show me?" Acts 8:30. St. Peter, too, explicitly refutes your ideas. "No prophecy of Scripture," he writes, "is of any private interpretation." 2Pet. 1:20.
62. 62. St. Peter means that the prophets did not prophesy by their own will, but by the Holy Spirit. He does not refer to interpretation by us.
Your own Protestant Bishop Ellicott says of these verses. "The words Ďprivate interpretationí might seem to mean that the sacred writers did not get their prophecies by private interpretation, but by divine inspiration. But this is certainly not the meaning. The real meaning is that the reader must not presume to interpret privately that which is far more than ordinary human thought."
63. 63. Any man who can think has the moral right to interpret anything.
He has not. The very laws of the state are not subject to the interpretation of each and every citizen. There is such a thing as thinking erroneously. In difficulties of civil law a man consults a lawyer who knows legal practice and parallel statutes. Who gives you the right to take greater liberties with divine legislation? A man who knows nothing of Hebrew or Greek, and is quite untrained in Scriptural exegesis, would misapprehend the sense of Scripture in hundreds of places.
64. 64. Did not Christ promise that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach us all truth?
He did not promise that the Holy Spirit would teach each individual separately. If every individual were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, all who read Scripture sincerely should come to the same conclusion. But they do not. The frightful chaos as to the meaning of Scripture is proof positive that the Holy Spirit has not chosen this way of leading men to the truth. It is blasphemy to say that the Holy Spirit does not know His own mind, and that He deliberately leads men into contradictory notions. Christ promised to preserve His church as a Church by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the only Church which shows signs of having been preserved is the consistent Catholic Church. The individual is guided by the Holy Spirit to a certain extent in the ways of holiness, but in the knowledge of revealed truth he is to be guided by the Catholic Church which Christ sent to teach all nations.
65. 65. I don't see the need of learning to understand a simple story for simple people.
The Bible is not a simple story for simple people. We live thousands of years after the Bible was written, and our language and customs are very different now. No book written at one age is easy for another age. The study of antiquities demands a knowledge of primitive languages of which few are capable, and for which still fewer have the time. Anyway, God never intended the Bible to be the sole guide to religion for all time. Christ taught orally and with authority, and He sent His Church to teach in the same way and with the same authority.
66. 66. How does it help to know Hebrew or Greek?
Because one must know what the original words meant in the language in which Scripture was written. A knowledge of Hebrew and Greek soon shows that the translators do not always find an English word to express the exact sense of the original. God inspired the thoughts of the original writers, not the work of the translators. And if you read a sense into Scripture which God did not intend at all, you no longer have God's Word.
67. 67. Christ chose poor fishermen, not learned men.
He trained them personally, and infused into their minds an exact knowledge of His doctrine. We cannot claim to have received a similar revelation, that we should rank ourselves with them.
68. 68. Then Catholics have to believe just what the priest likes to tell them?
The priest cannot tell the people just what he likes. He is obliged to teach just what Christ taught, and which has been taught him in the Name of Christ by the infallible Catholic Church.
69. 69. Is your Church afraid that people will form opinions for themselves?
If we consider some of the opinions people have formed for themselves from their private reading of Scripture there is need to be afraid. Christ's method was to establish a teaching Church. Protestants have a peculiar method of their own, but you cannot blame the Catholic Church for not using the Protestant method, a method which has led to nothing but uncertainty and widespread unbelief.
70. 70. Admitting the necessity of guidance, are not our Protestant ministers as capable as Catholic priests in telling us what Scripture means?
They might be, if priests had not an infallible Catholic Church to guide them. The Catholic Church rejoices in the special assistance of the Holy Spirit, and the priest has the help of her defined doctrines and the constant Catholic tradition as a safeguard. But your Protestant ministers do not claim to be spokesmen of an infallible Church. On their own principles they have to admit that they are possibly wrong. And, as a matter of fact, where all priests are agreed in the essential teachings of Scripture, your ministers come to all kinds of contradictory conclusions. The unity of teaching among Catholic priests is a greater indication of capability than the chaos which prevails outside the Catholic Church. But the capability of Catholic priests has little to do with authoritative teaching. It is derived from the authority of the infallible Catholic Church.
71. 71. You speak of the authority of the Church and the weight of tradition. But I have been taught that Scripture is the only rule of faith.
You have been taught wrongly. Scripture itself denies that it is the only rule of faith. The last verse of St. John's Gospel tells us that not all concerning our Lordís work is contained in Scripture. St. Paul tells us over and over again that many might be able to cite hundreds of texts yet not know Christian doctrine by any means. In fact, the adoption of the Bible only has led to as many opinions as there are men-amongst non-Catholics. Finally, Scripture tells us most clearly that the Catholic Church is the rule of faith, that Church which Christ sent to teach all nations and which He commanded men to hear and obey. He who believes in Scripture as his only guide ends by believing in his own mistaken interpretations of the Bible, and that means that he ends by believing in himself
72. 72. Is not the Church built on the knowledge it gets from the Bible?
No. The Catholic Church was built by Christ and upon Christ before a line of the New Testament was written. She received her doctrine immediately from the lips of Christ, and is safeguarded from error in her teaching by the Holy Spirit. Between 40 and 80 years after her foundation, some of her members wrote the books of the New Testament. If the Gospels were the only rule of faith, then before they were written there could have been no Christian rule of faith at all!
73. 73. Christ gave us the command to search the Scriptures. Jn. 5:39.
That was a retort, not a command, and you cannot turn a particular rebuke into a universal law. Were it a universal law, it would have been impossible of fulfillment by the vast majority during the 14 centuries prior to the invention of the printing press! But take the context. The Jews, who boasted of their fidelity to the Mosaic Law, would not believe in Christ. He challenged them: "(you) search the Scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they that give testimony of me." The Catholic Church could say in the same way to Protestants: "You are ever speaking of searching the Scriptures as opposed to my methods, and think in them to have everlasting life independently of me; yet the same are they that give testimony of me."
74. 74. Do we not read that the early Christians searched the Scriptures daily? Acts 17:11
They first received the true doctrine from the teaching Church, and then merely checked it in the Scriptures. That is the right procedure, and Catholics today do the same. But your way is not first to be taught by the Church, and then verify, but to try to make out your own religion from the Bible with an untrained mind and by that private interpretation which Scripture itself forbids.
75. 75. Well, I am afraid of nothing as long as I have the pure Word of God to fall back upon.
Without the Catholic Church you cannot prove it to be the pure Word of God. Nor need anyone be afraid of the pure Word of God. What we must fear is the Word of God adulterated by people who read into it whatever they like.
76. 76. I object to the way you put human traditions on the same level as Scripture.
As a source of doctrine the Catholic Church relies upon divinely guaranteed tradition, not upon merely human tradition. This divine tradition is the teaching of Christ, given orally to the Apostles and handed down in the Church, although not written in the pages of the New Testament.
77. 77. Then you appeal to tradition in addition to Scripture?
Yes, and I am quite Biblical in doing so. Christ sent the Apostles to teach all things that He had taught them. In the last verse of his Gospel, St. John tells us that not all is written in Scripture. If all is to be taught, and all is not set down in Scripture, part of Christian doctrine must be elsewhere. Where? St. Paul tells us clearly, "Brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our Epistle." 2 Thess. 2:14. "Hold the form of sound words which you have heard of me in faith." 2 Tim. 1:13. "The things thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also." 2 Tim. 2:2. All Christians from the very beginning believed that Christian revelation was contained not only in Scripture, but also in tradition. Acts 2:42, tells us that "they were persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles," that is, in the oral teaching of the Apostles which they taught to one another, and handed on to their children. Those who repudiate tradition have lost the complete doctrine of Christ.
78. 78. I do not question traditions contained in Scripture. I object to the Roman traditions which are not in Scripture and which are against Scripture.
The Catholic Church rejects all traditions which are against Scripture. She accepts divine traditions which are complementary to Scripture, and which are in perfect harmony with the principles taught in Scripture. The traditions themselves cannot be in Scripture for the traditional Word of God cannot be the written Word of God. But Scripture itself says that tradition exists, and that it is of equal authority with the written Word of God.
79. 79. Did not Christ blame the Pharisees, saying, "Why do you transgress the commandment of God for your tradition"? Matt. 15:3.
He did, but he called it their tradition, condemning their erroneous and merely human tradition, not the right traditions to which, according to St. Paul, we must hold fast. You quote this text merely because it happens to contain the word tradition, and without any appreciation of its true sense.
80. 80. St. Paul himself warns us, "Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ." Coloss. 2:8.
The text warns us against wrong traditions, but in no way condemns traditions which are not merely of human invention, but which are according to Christ. St. Paul does not contradict his own teaching.
81. 81. St. Peter condemns tradition, saying, "You were not redeemed by your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers." 1 Pet. 1:18.
This is not a condemnation of Christian traditions, but of doctrines held by those to whom St. Peter wrote, and handed on to them by human tradition from their fathers. These were the traditions our Lord condemned in Matt. 15:3.
82. 82. I admit the force of Apostolic traditions for the early Christians. But they could be sure of them as we cannot today.
Were the Apostolic traditions part of the Christian faith then? Is it therefore impossible to know the full Christian truth now? Did Christ mean it when He said that He would be with His Church all days till the very end of the world? Or would you suggest that He meant it, but could not accomplish it? He sent the Church to teach all things, yet you say that it is impossible today. Be sure that the Catholic Church has all necessary traditions embodied in her teachings. Within her fold each succeeding generation of Bishops has taught faithful men who have been fit to teach others also. But you refuse to be taught by that Church. You rely upon your own fallible judgment. And as long as you adopt that method you will never be sure, not only of the Christian traditions, but even of the true Christian doctrine to be derived from Scripture itself.
83. 83. You keep insisting, not only upon tradition, but also upon the teaching authority of your Church. Why follow her interpretations?
Because we cannot safely follow the interpretation given by anybody else. All guides except the Catholic Church confess to being fallible. The Catholic Church alone claims infallibility, and proves her claim. I prefer to follow so sure a guide. Those who refuse to do so are at sixes and sevens as to the true meaning of Christianity.
84. 84. Have not laymen as much intelligence as priests?
Apart from the fact that priests give, not their own human ideas, but the teachings of the Catholic Church, it is certain that the layman cannot know theological matters as do priests, even as you are not as well acquainted with jurisprudence and surgery as lawyers and doctors. A specialist in a subject, by years of study, is bound to know more of that subject than the man in the street. If an average man is so liable to error in the interpretation of human law, how can he have the vanity to think himself expert in the interpretation of divine legislation?
85. 85. What special qualifications has the Catholic Church in the interpretation of Scripture?
(1) The New Testament was written by members of the Catholic Church. She existed before a line of the New Testament was written. Protestantism came on the scene centuries afterwards. The Gospels are really the family papers of the Catholic Church, and she alone, possessing the family traditions, can interpret what those family papers really mean. (2) The Catholic Church carefully and jealously preserved the Bible through the ages, so that Protestants would have no Gospel were it not for her. (3) She has been much more faithful to Scripture than any of the Protestant Churches. Whilst many Protestant leaders are prepared to sacrifice the Bible in order to appear scientific and modern, the Catholic Church consistently demands that every jot and tittle of God's Word must be accepted in the original sense intended by God. (4) The Protestant Churches owe their separate existences to the fact that each denies that the others really know what Scripture means. (5) The Catholic Church was established by Christ as the rule of faith, and He declared that a man is to be regarded as a heathen if he will not hear the Church. The Catholic Church is the only qualified interpreter of Scripture.
86. 86. The Bible tells us to prove all things. 1 Thess. 5:21. The Catholic Church demands that her adherents prove nothing, accepting all on her authority, and without question.
Have you proved all things? Your own fantastic interpretations show that you have not. The text you quote has a meaning very different from that you attribute to it. It refers to conduct. The full text is, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. From all appearance of evil refrain yourselves." In other words, "Reflect, test, examine your conscience before you act, and do the right thing." In the same way, St. Paul said that one who desires to receive the Holy Eucharist must "prove himself, and so let him eat, for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself." 1Cor. 11:28. Your interpretation of Catholic requirements is just as fantastic. The Catholic Church does not demand that her adherents prove nothing.
She wants them to examine the reasons for their Catholic faith, and prove the claims of their Church. We prove that she is the only possible Church historically, Scripturally, and logically, and that she must be infallible. Then when she speaks in the Name of Christ we reasonably accept her teachings. If I consult a doctor whom I know to be competent, I accept his decisions. I do not fight every inch of the way, disputing, arguing, and challenging his statements. So, once I know that the Catholic Church is divinely qualified to speak the truth in religious matters, I accept her decisions and definitions. Nothing could be more wise than that. In fact, it would be sheer folly to do otherwise.
What Non-Catholics say about Protestantism and the Bible: Addressing the "Bible League," Dr. Booth says:
"If the assaults on the Scriptures continue, the time will come when to those always faithful to God there will be but one refuge, and that will be the Roman Catholic Church."
Says the Rev. C. Tinsley, a Methodist minister:
"The Bible is a very embarrassing book because of its many contradictions."
In "History of Literature" by Hallam, we read:
"The translation of the Old and the New Testaments by Luther is more renowned for the purity of his German idiom than for its adherence to the original text. Simon has charged him with ignorance of Hebrew and when we consider how late he came to a knowledge of that or the Greek language, and the multiplicity of his employments, it may be believed that his knowledge of them was far from extensive."
The Rev. Dr. Aked, a Baptist minister, writing in "Appletonís Magazine," Sept. , 1908, said:
"In the pages of the Protestant Version of the Bible are to be found historical errors, arithmetical mistakes, inconsistencies and manifold contradictions, and, what is far worse, one finds that the most horrible crimes are committed by men who plea, ĎGod said,í in justification of their terrible misdeeds. Moreover, the English Bible is a version of a version which is a translation of a translation. It has come down through Hebrew, Greek and Latin into English. In all its earlier stages it was copied by hand from one manuscript to another by different writers, a process certain to result in many mistakes."
The Anglican Bishop of London, Eng., Dr. Ingraham, says:
"At the present moment, there is only one Church in England that officially accepts the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God, and that Church is the Church of Rome."
Dr. Decosta said:
"The Church of Rome stands before the English-speaking world and Protestants everywhere as the solitary defender of the Bible in its integrity and entirety."
The Rev. O. J. Nelson, of Bellingham, Wash., says:
"Strictly speaking, none but the Catholic has an infallible Bible and none but the Catholic can be rightly called an orthodox Christian . . . There is only one Christian Church of real and consistent authority and that is the Catholic Church."
Charles Buder, in his "Horae Biblicae," says:
"For the sacred writings which contain the Word of God, and for the traditions of the wise and good respecting it, we are almost wholly indebted, under Providence, to the zeal and exertion of the priests and monks of the Church of Rome."
The Protestant Biblical critic, George Campbell, says:
"The Vulgate may be pronounced, on the whole, a good and faithful version."
An editorial in the New York "Sun," says:
"The time is coming, if, indeed, it has not already, when these Churches must take their stand definitely and decidedly on the question whether the Bible is of God or only of man. As it is now, the Pope is the sole bold, positive and uncompromising champion of the Bible as the Word of God."
Rev. Dr. A. S. Crapsey, addressing the "Free Religious Association":
"Most of the Protestant denominations are drifting backward, gravitating toward the Catholic. They are losing their intellectual leadership by not keeping pace with the scholars. Protestantism will follow and obey the law of gravitation, disintegrate, and thus lose all power."
The Methodist Bishop, Dr. Seliew:
"The spirit of Protestantism is declining in America with the progress of Catholicism. It is dying, and will soon be a thing of the past."
IMPRIMATUR:Joannes Gregorius Murray Archiepiscopus Sancti Pauli.
Written by Fr. Chas. M. Carty Rev. Dr. L. Rumble, M.S.C. Copyright 1976 by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.
Originally published by
Fathers Rumble and Carty Radio Replies Press, Inc.
St. Paul, Minn., U.S.A. Complete and Unabridged
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Next: this is the text of a booklet by the same priests as above. Donít let the title throw you.
1. 1. Why do you Catholics worship Mary as a goddess?
It would be mortal sin for any Catholic to regard Mary as a goddess. If a Catholic expressed such a belief to a priest in Confession he would be refused absolution unless he promised to renounce such as an absurd idea. If you wish to attack Catholic doctrine, at least find out what Catholics do believe before you begin. We Catholics do not give worship to Mary, the Mother of Christ, but what we do give to her is the best that we can in the giving, namely, homage, veneration, reverence, but never worship. We have enough intelligence to know that Mary the woman who gave human bone, human flesh, and human feature to the Savior of Mankind was not a goddess but a human member of the human race. Although she is a member of our race we hail her as the First Lady of Heaven and of Earth.
2. 2. The genealogies of Christ as given by the Gospel afford one much difficulty. If Jesus was not the son of Joseph, why is His genealogy traced through Joseph?
Jesus was not the natural son of Joseph. But Mary, who was the Mother of Jesus, was related to Joseph, whose genealogy was also her own. It was a Jewish custom to record descent only through the male line.
3. 3. If you call her Queen of Heaven do you not do her an injustice in refusing to her the title of goddess?
It would be the greatest possible injustice to regard her as a goddess. It is just to honor her even as God has honored her, which we Catholics do. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, and His mother certainly possesses queenly dignity holding the highest place in Heaven next to her Divine Son. But that does not, and cannot change her finite and created human nature. To regard her as a goddess would be absurd.
4. 4. Yet you insist that she is the Mother of God!
Jesus Christ is true God and true man, and as He was born of Mary she is truly the Mother of God. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was born of her according to the humanity He derived from her. She is not a goddess, for God did not take His Divine Being from her. But she is the Mother of God since the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was truly born of her in His human nature.
5. 5. How could Mary be the mother of the One who created her?
Mary owed her being, of course, to God, but this under the aspect of His eternal nature. Subsequent to her creation that human nature was born of her which the Son of God had assumed to Himself. She was, therefore, the mother of Christ. But Christ was one Divine Person existing in two natures, one eternal and divine; the other, temporal and human. Mary necessarily gave birth to a being with one personality and that divine, and she is rightly called the Mother of God.
6. 6. Does not the Catholic Church insist also upon the biologically impossible dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary herself?
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary has nothing to do with biology. It does not mean that she was conceived miraculously in the physical sense. She was normally conceived and born of her parents, Joachim and Ann. But in her very conception her soul was preserved immaculate in the sense that she inherited no stain of original sin, derived from our first parents.
7. 7. According to Catholic doctrine the Sacrament of Baptism destroys original sin. Would you say that Mary did not need Baptism?
Mary did not need Baptism insofar as that sacrament was instituted for the destruction of original sin. She received that sacrament in order to participate in its other effects, and chiefly in order to receive the Christian character which that sacrament impress upon the soul. Mary was not the only one born into this world free of original sin. Jeremias, the prophet, picked out by God to preach penance to the Chosen People of God, was sanctified by the action of God, whilst being carried in the womb of his mother so that when he was born he was free of original sin. Jer. 1:5. St. John the Baptist was likewise sanctified in the womb of his mother Elizabeth because he was picked out by God to point out to mankind the Lamb of God, the Messiah, Luke 1:41. Jeremias and St. John were conceived in original sin but before birth were cleansed of original sin. Mary was never conceived in original sin and thus it is only by this privilege that she was never under the dominion of the evil spirit. It is only by the privilege of the Immaculate Conception that Mary can be the woman of whom God speaks in prophecy to Satan after the fall of the first parents, Adam and Eve, when He says to the serpent: "Because thou hast done this.... I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel." Gen. 3:14-15.
8. 8. If Mary was sinless she could not have needed redemption! Yet is not Christ the Redeemer of every child of Adam?
Insofar as the sin of Adam involved the whole human race in condemnation Mary needed redeeming. But there are two ways of redeeming. God could allow one to be born in sin and then purify the soul by subsequent application of the merits of Christ, or He could, by an anticipation of the merits of Christ, exempt a soul from an actual contraction of original sin. Thus He exempted Mary from any actual inheritance of the sin, and she owes her exemption to the anticipated merits of Christ. In other words, she was redeemed by Christ by prevention rather than by subsequent purification.
9. 9. Is there any evidence in Scripture that Mary was indeed never actually subject to original sin?
Yes. In Gen. 3:15, God said to Satan, "I will put enmities between thee and the woman ... thou shalt lie in wait for her heel." The radical enmity between Satan and that second Eve, the Mother of Christ, forbids her having been under the dominion of Satan, as she would have been had she ever contracted original sin in actual fact. In Lk. 1:28, we read how the Angel was sent by God to salute Mary with the words, "Hail, full of grace." Grace excludes sin, and had there been any sin at all in Mary she could not have been declared to be filled with grace. The Protestant version translates the phrase as "thou that hast been highly favored." But the Greek certainly implies "completely filled with holiness." However, complaints that our doctrine exempts Mary from the contracting of original sin are becoming more and more rare in a world which is tending to deny original sin altogether, and which wishes to exempt everybody from it.
10. 10. St. Paul says that one died for all, and therefore all were dead. 2 Cor. 5:14-15.
Such texts must be interpreted in the light of other passages where God reveals that Mary was never under the dominion of Satan. Mary is included in these words of St. Paul juridically insofar as she was born of Adam, but she was not allowed to be born in sin to be afterwards redeemed. She was redeemed by prevention.
11. 11. St. John knew the Mother of Christ better than the others, yet he does not mention her Immaculate Conception!
In Rev. 12 he shows clearly his knowledge of the deadly opposition between Mary and Satan. His Gospel he wrote to supplement the Synoptic accounts, and sufficient details had been given concerning Mary herself by St. Luke. Omission to mention a fact in a given book is not proof that the writer did not know of it, and above all if it does not fall within the scope of his work.
12. 12. Did the early Church know anything of this doctrine?
St. Augustine, in the fourth century wrote: "When it is a matter of sin we must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I will have no question raised, owing to the honor due to our Lord." St. Ephrem, also in the fourth century, taught very clearly the Immaculate Conception of Mary, likening her to Eve before the fall. The Oriental Churches celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception as early as the seventh century. When Pope Pius IX defined the Catholic doctrine in 1854 he gave, not a new truth to be added to Christian teaching, but merely defined that this doctrine was part of Christian teaching from the very beginning, and that it is to be believed by all as part of Christian revelation.
13. 13. Your infallible Church allowed St. Bernard to remain in ignorance of this doctrine.
Since the Church had not then given any infallible definition on the subject St. Bernard naturally could not be guided by it. St. Bernard believed that Mary was born free from sin, but he was puzzled as to the moment of her sanctification. He thought the probable explanation to be that she was conceived in sin, but purified as was St. John the Baptist prior to her actual birth. But he did not regard this opinion as part of his Faith. Meantime his error was immaterial prior to the final authentic decision of the infallible Church. St. Bernard believed all that God had taught and all that the Catholic Church had clearly set forth in her definitions prior to his time.
14. 14. Did not St. Thomas Aquinas deny the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception?
His opinion was probably much the same as that of St. Bernard. Before the definite decision of the Church was given theologians were free to discuss the matter. But the Church has since defined that the soul of Mary was never subject for a single moment to the stain of original sin. Both St. Bernard and St. Thomas would have been very glad to have had the assistance of such a definition.
15. 15. Why did the Church withhold that honor from Mary for so long a time?
Since Mary always possessed that honor the Church did not withhold it from her. The definition that Mary did possess such an honor was given by the Church when necessity demanded it. There was no real dispute about this matter in the early Church. In the middle ages theologians attempted a deeper analysis of the privileges of Mary, and with no infallible decision of the Church to help them, some theologians arrived at defective conclusions chiefly because of the defective psychology of the times. Some theologians held that Mary was preserved from original sin from the very moment of her conception; others said from the moment of her animation; yet others that she was purified at a moment subsequent both to her conception and to her animation. All admitted that she was sanctified prior to her actual birth. Now that the Church has spoken there is no doubt on the subject.
16. 16. Did not Franciscans and Dominicans attack each other bitterly over the Immaculate Conception?
They indulged in much controversy, but - it was a free matter for discussion until the Church had given her definite ruling. The Catholic Church demands unity in doctrines which have been definitely decided, liberty in matters still undecided, and charity always. I admit that her ideals of charity have not always been maintained by her wayward children in theological controversies, but that is no fault of the Church.
17. 17. Did not Philip III and Philip IV ask the Pope Paul V, Gregory V, and Alexander VII to define the Immaculate Conception in order to stop the wrangling, the Popes replying that the doctrine was not definable as not being in Scripture?
The Popes have never given such a decision. Paul V in 1617 forbade anyone to teach publicly that Mary was not immaculate. Gregory V in 1612 ordered the discussion to stop until the Church should have given an official decision. Alexander VII said that the Immaculate Conception of Mary was the common doctrine of the Church and that no one must deny it. None of these Popes gave a dogmatic definition, but rather a disciplinary ruling. Pope Pius IX. defined the doctrine finally in 1854.
18. 18. Why call Mary a virgin? Seeing that she was a mother. The linking of the two terms is an insult to reason.
The assertion that an omnipotent God is limited by the natural laws, which He Himself established, is an insult to reason. Jesus, the child of Mary, was conceived miraculously without the intervention of any human father, and was born miraculously, Mary's virginity being preserved throughout. I do not claim that any natural laws were responsible for this event. I claim that God was responsible, and the only way you can show that the doctrine is not reasonable is by proving that there is no God, or that He could not do what Catholic doctrine asserts.
19. 19. Where does it say in Scripture that Mary was ever virgin?
Isaiah the prophet (7:14) certainly predicted a supernatural and extraordinary birth of the Messiah when he wrote, "The Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son; and his name shall be called Emmanuel." St. Luke says, "The angel Gabriel was sent from God ... to a virgin ... and the virgin's name was Mary." When Mary was offered the dignity of becoming the mother of the Messiah, a privilege to which any Jewish maiden would ordinarily look forward with eager desire, she urged against the prospect the fact that she had no intention of motherhood. "How shall this be done, because I know not man." She does not refer to the past, but by using the present tense indicates her present and persevering intention. The angel assured her that her child would be due to the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit, and that she would not be asked to forfeit the virginity she prized so highly, and then only did she consent. Luke 1:26-38. When Jesus was born, Mary had none of the suffering usually associated with childbirth. The child was born miraculously. Mary herself in no way incapacitated. She herself attended to her own needs and those of the child. "She brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger." Lk. 2:7. The Virgin Birth means that Mary had at one and the same time the privilege of Motherhood and the privilege of Maidenhood.
20. 20. Did not Mary, to cloak her own sin, persuade St. Joseph that her child was of the Holy Ghost?
No. That is absolutely false. Mary, saluted by an angel as full of grace, was the purest and holiest woman who ever lived on this earth. And, as a matter of fact, with sublime confidence in God, Mary refrained from explaining the event to St. Joseph, leaving all to God. As St. Matthew Mt. I, 20, tells us, "Behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.'" What you suggest has been said by certain people merely because the Catholic Church honors Mary. Their hatred of the Catholic Church is so great that they dislike all she loves, and are willing to overlook any injury to Christ in fostering their hatred. Yet how can they hope to please Christ by dishonoring His mother? Every true child bitterly resents disrespect to his mother, and Christ was the beat son who ever lived. The more we honor Mary the more we honor Christ, for the honor we show her is because of Christ. If He were not the central figure, Mary would have been forgotten long ago.
21. 21. If Jesus was born of a virgin why does he say nothing about it?
We do not know that He said nothing about it. The evangelists do not record any special utterances of Christ on this subject, but they do not pretend to record all that He ever said. St. Luke tells us that when He met the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, "beginning at Moms and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures, the things that were concerning him." 24:27. There is every probability that He explained His advent into this world according to the prophecy of Isaiah. Meantime the Gospels do record the fact that Mary was a virgin, and their words are as reliable in this as when they record the utterances of Christ.
22. 22. To prove Davidic descent both Matthew and Luke give the Genealogy of Joseph, useless were not Joseph the father of Christ.
The genealogy of Joseph was that of Mary also. They were kinspeople of the same Davidic stock. The Jews as a rule counted their generations only in the male line, and such a generation alone would appeal to the Jews for whom Matthew above all wrote. The same St. Matthew records that the angel told Joseph that the child was conceived miraculously by the Holy Ghost and not through the intervention of man. St. Luke in turn left no doubt as to his mind on the subject when he carefully wrote that "Jesus Himself was beginning about the age of thirty years; being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph." 3:23.
23. 23. St. Matthew says that Joseph knew her not till she brought forth her first-born son: 1:25.
Nor did he. And the expression "till" in Hebrew usage has no necessary reference to the future. Thus in Gen. 8:7, we read that "the dove went forth from the ark and did not return till the waters dried up." That expression does not suggest that it returned then. It did not return at all, having found resting places. Nor does the expression firstborn child imply that there were other children afterwards. Thus Exodus says, "Every first-born shall be sanctified unto God." Parents had not to wait to see if other children were born before they could call the first their first-born!
24. 24. Matt. 13:55-56 says, "His brethren James and Joseph, and Simon and Jude: and his sisters, are they not all with us?"
The Jewish expression "brothers and sisters of the Lord" in Scripture merely refers to relationship in the same tribe or stock. Cousins often came under that title. In all nations the word brother has a wide significance, as when one Mason will call another a brother Mason without suggesting that he was born of the same mother. The same St. Matthew speaks explicitly of "Mary, the mother of James and Joseph" in 27:56, obviously alluding to a Mary who was not the mother of Jesus but who was married to Cleophas, the brother of Joseph.
25. 25. There would not he two girls in the one family called Mary.
There certainly could be. And St. John 19:25, writes that there stood by the cross of Jesus "His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas." But even here, Mary of Cleophas need not have been a sister in the first degree of blood-relationship, but rather of the same lineage in more remote degrees of either consanguinity or affinity.
26. 26. Why are Protestants, who believe in Scripture, so convinced that Mary had other children?
They are not inspired by love for Christ, or for the mother of Christ, or for Scripture in their doctrine. Their main desire is to maintain a doctrine differing from that of the Catholic Church. But it is a position which is rapidly going out of fashion. Learned Protestant scholars today deny as emphatically as any Catholic that Mary had other children. When Our Lord, dying on the cross, commended His mother to the care of St. John, He did so precisely because He was her only child, and He knew that Mary had no other children to care for her. The idea that Mary had other children is disrespectful to the Holy Spirit who claimed and sanctified her as His sanctuary. It insults Christ, who was the only-begotten of His mother even as He was the only-begotten of His Heavenly Father. It insults Mary, who would have been guilty of a great ingratitude to God, if she threw away the gift of virginity which God had so carefully preserved for her in the conception of Christ. It insults St. Joseph. God had told him by an angel to take Mary to wife, and that the child to be born of her had no earthly father but was the very Son of God. God merely gave St. Joseph the privilege of protecting her good name amongst the undiscerning Jews, and He chose a God-fearing man who would respect her. Knowing that her child was God Himself in human form, Joseph would at once regard her as on a plane far superior to that of any ordinary human being, and to him, as to us, the mere thought of her becoming a mother to merely earthly children would have seemed a sacrilege.
27. 27. You urge these privileges granted to Mary as the foundation of your devotion to her, yet Christ said, "Rather blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it." Luke 11:28.
Would you presume to say that Mary, whom the angel addressed as full of grace, did not hear the Word of God and keep it? You have missed the sense of the passage to which you allude. In Luke 11:27, a woman praised the one who had the honor to be the mother of Christ. Christ did not for a moment deny it, as you would like to believe. The sense of His words is simple, "Yes, she is blessed. But better to hear God's word and keep it, thus attain holiness, than to be My mother. You cannot all imitate Mary by being My mother; but you can do so by hearing God's word and keeping it." The thought that those who hear God's word and keep it are rather blessed than Mary because she did not is simply absurd. "Henceforth," declared Mary prophetically, "all generations shall call me blessed." Lk. 1:48. And Elizabeth saluted her with the words, "Blessed art thou among women." Lk. 1:42.
28. 28. How do you prove Mary's bodily assumption into Heaven?
No Christian could dispute the fact that Mary's soul is in Heaven. Christ certainly did not suffer the soul of His own mother to be lost. The doctrine of her bodily assumption after her death is not contained in Scripture, but is guaranteed by tradition and by the teaching of the Catholic Church. That Scripture omits to record the fact is no argument against it. Omission is not denial. Meantime, early traditions positively record the fact, and negatively we note that, whilst the mortal remains of a St. Peter and of a St. Paul are jealously possessed and honored in Rome, no city or Christian center has ever claimed to possess the mortal remains of Our Lady. Certainly relics of Our Lady would be regarded as having greater value than those of any Saint or Apostle, so nearly was she related to Christ. And it was most fitting that the body of Mary, who had been preserved even from the taint of original sin, should not have been allowed to corrupt. After all, it was just as easy for God to take her glorified body to Heaven at once as it will be to take the glorified bodies of all the saved at the last day. However, the definite sanction of this doctrine by the Catholic Church is sufficient assurance of the fact.
29. 29. I have discovered 27 virgin-born Saviors in my studies of mythology.
You would find it difficult to name them. However, granting that you have read of some such claims, a little further study would show you that a critical and, comparative examination such as Christian doctrine has had to undergo, leaves these mythological claims devoid of reality, whilst the Christian fact emerges unscathed.
30. 30. At evening devotions in a Catholic Church I heard many prayers to Mary. I cannot find in Scripture where Mary is to be worshipped in the same way as Christ.
I am not surprised, for such a doctrine is nowhere taught in Scripture. Moreover if any Catholic dared to worship Mary in the same way as he worships Christ, he would be guilty of a most serious sin, and no Catholic priest could give him absolution unless he promised never to do so again. But that does not mean that one must deprive Mary of all honor.
31. 31. St. Bonaventure said, "Into thy hands, O Lady, I commend my spirit." Thus he served the creature more than the creator to whom alone such words should be addressed.
St. Bonaventure did not serve the creature more than the Creator. In commending his soul to Mary he was not commending it to anyone opposed to God. He did is because of God, who chose Mary as the second Eve. Eve brought us forth to misery and to death; Mary brought us forth to happiness and to life when she brought forth our Saviour. Like the kings from the East, St. Bonaventure knew that after the long journey through this life, he would also find the child Jesus with Mary, His mother, and that if he commended his soul to the mother he would necessarily find himself in the presence of the child, even in eternity. Gladly on my own deathbed would I utter the words used by St. Bonaventure. As Jesus came to us through Mary, so we shall go to Him through her, whether we think of it or not.
32. 32. Mary is no different from your own mother.
As the street Arab replied to a similar objection. "But there's an immense difference between the sons. My mother is the mother of me. Mary is the mother of God."
33. 33. You speak as if Jesus looks on His mother just as you look on your mother.
As surely as my mother is my mother, He knows that His mother is His mother; and He treats her as such.
34. 34. Jesus was a good son but he recognized only one being, the omnipotent God.
Had he ignored Mary He would not have been a very good son, nor would He have had much respect for God who said, "Honor thy father and thy mother." Christ was a perfect example of virtue in all things. And if He did not recognize Mary, why did He go down to Nazareth and be subject to her? Why did he perform His first miracle at her request? And why did He make such special provision for her at the moment of His death?
35. 35. When someone praised Mary, Christ paid no attention, but said that only those are blessed who keep the word of God. Lk. 11:28.
The Gospels are fragmentary accounts, and we do not know all that transpired on that occasion. But even so, the actual text is not opposed in any way to the honor we give to Mary. Someone praised Mary. Christ replied, "Yea, rather blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it." Not for a moment did He intend to deny that Mary had done this. He practically says, "Yes. She is blest in being my mother. But it is a greater blessing to serve God." And, from one point of view, the fidelity with which Mary undoubtedly served God was a greater blessing to her than merely being the mother of Christ. Any idea that Christ, the best of sons, was trying to belittle His mother is absurd. And if you have such faith in Scripture, what do you do as regards the prophecy of Mary in Lk. 1:48? "From henceforth," she predicted, "all generations shall call me blessed." Yet blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it! We Catholics call Mary blessed indeed, whilst many Protestants search Scripture in the fond hope of proving something to her discredit!
36. 36. Christ called her, "Woman," when he said, "Woman behold thy son." John 19:26.
In the language Christ spoke, that word was a term of great respect however harshly it may sound in our modern English language. Our Lord would have been the last to slight His mother, a thing we despise in every man; and above all in His last and most tender words to her. Nor are we likely to please Him by seeking to dishonor her.
37. 37. Did He not say to her at the marriage feast of Cana, "Woman, what is that to thee and to Me?" John 2:4.
He did. But most certainly He intended no reproach to Mary. Her action was one of pure charity to others. Foreseeing the possible distress of others, she asked Him to relieve them; and He would not rebuke so unselfish a thought. Nor would He speak to her with any trace of disrespect. Then, too, had Mary asked a wrong thing, Christ would not have done it, nor would He have sanctioned a request He had to rebuke. And Mary knew that she had not been reprehended, or she would not have told the waiters to do what her Son would tell them. She would have dropped the matter. Why, then, did Christ speak thus? It was His first miracle, the first public sign of His divinity wrought by Himself. And He wanted to bring out publicly the fact that He was doing it, not as the son of an earthly mother and according to His human nature, but calling upon His divine nature as the eternal Son of God. He did it because His mother requested it, but He did not do it by any power derived from His mother. He thus brought out both for the listeners and for us that this beginning of miracles was proof of His divinity, although in appearance He seemed but man.
38. 38. Why do you call Mary Queen of Heaven?
Because Mary is undoubtedly in Heaven, and Jesus is King of Heaven. Since Jesus is "King of kings and Lord of lords," it is certain that Mary His mother rejoices in queenly dignity.
39. 39. Why pray to Mary at all?
Because God wills that we should do so, and because such prayers to her are of the utmost value. God often wills to give certain favors only on condition that we go to some secondary agent. Sodom was to be spared through the intercession of Abraham; Gen. 18:20-33. Naaman, the leper, was to be cured only through the waters of the Jordan, 4 Kings 5:9-14. Now Mary is, and must ever remain, the Mother of Christ. She still has a mother's rights and privileges, and is able to obtain for us many graces. But let us view things reasonably. If I desire to pray, I can certainly pray to God directly. Yet would you blame me if, at times, I were to ask my own earthly mother to pray for me also? Such a request is really a prayer to her that she may intercede for me with God. Certainly, if I met the mother of Christ on earth, I would ask her to pray for me, and she would do so. And in her more perfect state with Christ in Heaven she is more able to help me.
40. 40. But a prayer to God directly must be more efficacious than a prayer to Mary.
Not necessarily. It might well be that God intends to honor Our Lady by granting the favor I seek through her intercession in a particular way. In that case the grace is to be given through her provided I honor her by addressing myself to her. Again, every prayer to Mary is in reality the asking of a favor also. It is often better to ask God for a favor and to have someone else praying to God with one for the same favor. Two prayers are better than one. And above all, when the other one praying is Christ's own mother.
41. 41. God loves you more than Mary loves you.
That is so. But He loves Mary more than He loves me. And as she is more pleasing to God than I am, He will be more ready to grant her requests.
42. 42. It is unscriptural to attribute power to Mary.
That is a very unscriptural statement. At His mother's request Jesus changed water into wine at Cana, though He had said, "My time is not yet come." John 2:4. St. James tells us that "the prayer of a just man availeth much." Ja. 5:16. How much more the prayer of Mary!
43. 43. Does the Bible sanction such prayers to Mary?
Yes. All through the Bible you will find God conferring favors through the prayer of others. In the Old Testament we read of the prayers of Abraham, Moses, and of the various prophets. In the New Testament, St. James 5:16, tells us to "pray for one another," in the text I have just quoted. If we must always pray directly to God and may not ask the prayers of others why did St. Paul write to the Thessalonians, "Pray for us that we may be delivered from importunate and evil men"? 2 Thess. 3:2. Why did he not ask directly of God, instead of asking the prayers of the Thessalonians? Or would you be more scriptural than the New Testament itself?
44. 44. There is but one mediator, - there is no place for Mary.
Christ is the principal mediator in His own right, Mary is a secondary mediatrix, through, with, and in Christ. Without Him she would have no power, and therefore He is the source of all mediation with God on behalf of men.
45. 45. How can you blend the mediation of others with that of Christ?
It follows from the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Remember that, by Baptism, every Christian is incorporated with Christ. St. Paul says, "Christ is the head; ye are the members." 1 Cor. 11:3; 12:27. So close is this union that Christ says, "Whoever gives you to drink a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ; amen, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." Mk. 9:40. Every Christian is Christ in a most intimate way. St. Paul tells us that if a baptized person sins, he takes the members of Christ and makes them the members of iniquity! When that same St. Paul was persecuting the Christians before his conversion, Christ appeared to him and said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest Thou Me?" Acts 9:4. He did not say, "Why persecutest thou My disciples?" He could equally say, when we pray to Mary or to the saints, "What asketh thou of Me?" When we honor Our Lady or the saints, we honor, not their own merely human and created nature, but we honor Christ in them according to the doctrines of Scripture. The Catholic Church is the only completely scriptural Church.
46. 46. Do Catholics believe that Mary is omnipotent?
No. God alone is omnipotent. But through Mary we have access to the omnipotence of God.
47. 47. How do you know that Mary hears you?
The Catholic Church guarantees that, and she is here to tell us the truth about such things in the name of Christ and with His authority. Reason also assures us that, as she could know our prayers in this life and pray for us in turn, so she can do so in the more perfect state in Heaven. Finally, experience proves it, for she has manifested her power in thousands of concrete instances in answer to prayer.
48. 48. Why should Mary be recognized as being greater than any other woman?
She was picked out by God to be the sacred repository of God's own Son, to furnish, so to speak, the human texture, flesh, and blood from which was to be woven the garb of divinity. If before birth we could have the privilege of choosing our own natural mother, and if we ever had the power of making that mother whatever we chose, would we ever make her short of anything but the loveliest lady in the world, or would we ever have endowed her with those qualities which would make us apologize to men either for moral blemishes or physical weaknesses? No. I think we would give to her the qualities and virtues which would make all men love her eternally. If you and I then, ... with our natural natures would have done all this to the woman who gave us life, who meant so much to us, should we not suppose that God would do the same and more for the Mother of His Son? This he did do. He arrayed her in the peerless jewel of Divine Grace, a grace that was higher than any grace given to any mint, angel, or archangel. Angels were created to serve God. Mary was created to be the Mother, the shrine, the tabernacle of God-made Man. Mary is to be honored above all women as the prophecies of the Old Testament declare, precisely because of the royal role she plays as Co-Redemptrix with Christ in the Divine Redemption.
49. 49. I don't see the necessity of hailing her as the Co-Redemptrix with Christ.
See then what is happening to the non-Catholic world for denying that role of Mary. In Catholicism, they tell us, there is too much emphasis and the wrong emphasis on the Mother of Jesus. If we ever begin a religion by eliminating the Mother, we shall eventually wind up by eliminating the Son. Thus when the Reformers did away with the Mother, they paved the way for doing away with the Son. If we get rid of the one, we will soon get rid of the other. Germany began by putting the Mother in the tomb of oblivion or on the dusty pages of history and after four hundred years Germany is now trying to get rid of the Son. If we can judge correctly the attitude of the American Federation of Churches, our Blessed Savior is being rapidly brought down to the mere status of a man. We can reasonably be suspicious that religions that have taken Mary out, have slurred this wonderful lady, and when we insult the Mother we insult the Son. We can never have a Son without a Mother in the natural order of things; in the Divine order of things we can never have a Christ without a Mary. If we smash her statues and white-wash Our Lady's Chapel or chisel the Child from the Mother, we run the risk of smashing the entire statue of Christianity, for those two holy heads of Jesus and Mary are too close together for their halos not to mingle and to cross.
50. 50. Attending a Catholic Church one evening I was disgusted by the rigmarole called the Rosary. What in the Rosary?
The Rosary is a special form of devotion to Mary. One takes a set of beads, divided into five sections, each section consisting of one large bead and ten small beads. Holding the large bead, one says the Our Father, and on each of the small ones, the Hail Mary. Between each section or decade the Gloria is said. Whilst saying the prayers, one meditates or thinks of the joys, or sorrows, or glories of Christ's life and of that of His Mother. It is a very beautiful form of prayer with which you were disgusted merely because you did not understand it. The Rosary is a Bible for the Blind and the unlearned. In the so-called Dark Ages which were indeed the Ages of Faith, the Church taught the great masses, who could not read, the mysteries of the Bible through the meditations of the Rosary.
51. 51. The Rosary is a relic of the superstitious Middle Ages, when it was meant for ignorant people.
The use of beads dates from the earliest centuries. The prayers embodied in the Rosary were composed by Christ Himself in the case of the Our Father and by the Angel Gabriel, St. Elizabeth, and the Council of Ephesus in the 5th century, in the case of the Hail Mary. We are in very good company with those prayers. As a devotion, with its loving contemplation of the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord it appeals to rich and poor, to learned and ignorant alike, as Christianity itself was meant to do.
52. 52. When were beads invented, and what do they symbolize?
It is impossible to say when beads were first used. As an aid to memory, the early Christians used to put a number of pebbles in one pocket, transferring them to another as they said each prayer, so that they could be sure of completing such prayers each day as their devotion inspired. Later, berries or pebbles were strung together for the purpose. In the Middle Ages sections of these beads were adapted to the different meditations which compose the Rosary, the sections being a numerical help to meditate for a given period of time upon each allotted subject. The symbolism is expressed in the word Rosary. A Rosary is a garland of flowers. One rose does not make a Rosary. Prayers are the flowers of the spiritual life, and in offering that group of prayers, known as the Rosary, we lay a garland of spiritual flowers at the feet of God.
53. 53. Christ did not have a Crucifix or Rosary beads.
He made the first Crucifix. That He did not use Rosary beads does not affect the question. He never had a copy of the New Testament in His hands, yet you do not reject the New Testament because of that!
54. 54. Between each Our Father to God, it throws in ten prayers to Mary!
You've got it the wrong way 'round. Between each ten Hail Marys an Our Father is said. The Rosary is essentially a devotion to Mary, honoring her whom God Himself so honored. And it honors her particularly in her relation to Christ, whose life is the subject of the meditations. The Our Father abstracts from the Incarnation of Christ; the Hail Mary is full of reverence to Our Lord in His birth into this world for us.
55. 55. Would not the Rosary be just as efficient if said with one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Gloria?
It would not be the Rosary then, but some other type of devotion. Nor would such a devotion be as efficient, for meditation whilst saying ten Hail Marys is better than meditation whilst saying one. But your trouble seems to be based on the mere question of number. That is quite immaterial.
56. 56. It is not. Christ said, "Use not vain repetitions as do the heathen, who think in their much speaking to be heard." St. Mt. 6:7.
Vain repetition in the manner of heathens is forbidden, but not useful repetition which is not in the manner of heathens. Vain repetition relies mechanically upon the mere number of prayers or formulas uttered. But Catholics do not rely on the mere repetition of prayers, nor upon their multiplication, but on the intrinsic worth of each prayer and upon the fervor and earnestness with which it is said. Two prayers said well, one immediately after the other, are as good as the same two prayers said well with twenty-four hours between them. Time is nothing to God, in whose sight 1,000 years are but as a day. He does not mind whether there be two seconds between our prayers or two years; the prayers themselves are just as pleasing to Him. If you take the principle behind your objection, and push it to its full conclusion, you could say the Our Father but once in your life. If you said it once each year, it would be repetition. How often may you say it? Once a month? Once a week? Once a day? If daily, what would be wrong with saying it hourly? If you have just concluded one Our Father, why may you not begin it again at once? Does it suddenly become an evil prayer?
Your Bible has a faulty translation of these words, "Use not vain repetitions as the heathens do." The Greek verb "battologein" of the original does not mean such a thing at all. The Douay version translates correctly when it says, "speak not much." St. Mt. wanted action and less talk.
57. 57. If repetition adds to effectiveness, why stop at ten Hail Marys? Why not more?
It is the nature of this devotion that the Rosary should be composed of decades, or groups of ten. It would not be the Rosary otherwise. Repetition certainly adds to effectiveness, if the prayers are said well. Just before His passion, Christ prayed "the third time, saying the self-same word." Mt. 26:44. He thought it good to say the same prayer three times in succession. Why did He limit it to three times? If good to say it three times, why not twenty times? He thought three sufficient for His purpose. So, too, we consider the period taken by the recital of ten Hail Marys sufficient time for the amount of reflection we desire to give to each mystery of the Rosary.
58. 58. Does not Scripture advise short prayer rather than long rosaries?
No. Long hypocritical prayers are condemned. Prayer may be prolonged, but it must not be hypocritical, mechanical, or insincere. Christ spoke a parable to them that, "We ought always to pray, and not to faint." Lk. 18:1. He Himself "went out into a mountain to pray, and He passed the whole night in prayer to God." Lk. 6:12. "We cease not to pray for you," wrote St. Paul to the Colossians 1:9. "Night and day we more abundantly pray for you," he wrote to the Thessalonians 1 Thess. 3:10.
59. 59. Anyway short mental prayers must be better than long distracted prayers.
Short fervent interior prayers are better than long distracted vocal prayers. But, given equally fervent prayers said with due attention, long ones are better than short ones. It is certainly better to give more time to prayer than less! And if distractions do present themselves, it is better to give up the distractions than to give up the prayers. Mental prayer is good, but vocal prayer is equally good if said well, and sometimes better. Thus Christ taught the Apostles a vocal prayer called the Our Father. So well did they learn it by heart that they were able to write it down years later word for word.
60. 60. Why do you omit from the Our Father the words "For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever and ever"?
Because Our Lord did not add those words to the prayer as He taught it. There is nothing wrong with the words in themselves. In fact, they are very beautiful. But they are not Sacred Scripture. Some early Catholic copyist wrote those words in a margin; later copyist mistakenly transcribed them into the text; and the Protestant translators made use of a copy of the New Testament with the words thus included. All scholars today admit the words to be an interpolation. We Catholics do not use them.
61. 61. Why do Catholic Churches ring bells at daybreak, noon, and sunset?
The ringing of these bells is to remind Catholics to say the Angelus, a short devotion in honor of the incarnation of Christ. Three rings are given three times separately, and then nine rings, according to an ancient custom. The devotion is called the Angelus because the first words of the prayers to be said begin as follows: "The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary." The Angelus, therefore, reminds us of the message of the Angel Gabriel who brought the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. And Catholics are asked to begin the day by remembering this great benefit; to recollect it again at noon, and at sunset or the close of the day. An old English manuscript, written of course in England's Catholic days before the Reformation, says that the Angelus in the morning should remind us of Christ's resurrection at dawn; at noon of His death on the cross; and at eventide of His birth at midnight in the cave in Bethlehem. In any case, the Angelus is to remind Catholics of the fact that the Son of God came into this world for the redemption of mankind, and that they themselves should never forget it.
62. 62. What do the three threes, and the nine bells signify?
The origin of the number of bells to be tolled is uncertain. The triple ringing reminds us of the Most Holy Trinity. The final nine bells may have been arranged merely for the sake of harmony and symmetry, although some writers see in that number a reminder of the nine choirs of Angels who invite us to adore God with them.
63. 63. Why pray to Saints? Is it not better to pray to God direct?
Not always. The same answer applies here as in the case of prayers to the Virgin Mary, who after all is the greatest of the Saints. God may wish to give certain favors through the intercession of some given Saint. In such a case, it is better to seek the intercession of that Saint as God wishes. I can decide to give you a gift myself, or to do so through a friend. In the latter case you do me greater honor by accepting it from my friend than by refusing my way of giving it to you, and insolently demanding it directly from myself in person.
64. 64. I pray that you may see the futility of praying to Saints who can do nothing for you. Christ is the only Mediator.
By your very prayer you are attempting to mediate between God and myself on my behalf. I do not criticize the principle of praying for others. I believe in that. But I do criticize your praying for me in violation of your own principles. If the Saints cannot be mediators by praying for me, nor can you. Your prayers would be futile; they could do nothing for me; and you would be wasting your time.
65. 65. When did God tell anyone to pray to human beings?
When the Catholic Church teaches us that prayer to the Saints is right and useful, it is God teaching us that truth through His Church. But the doctrine is clearly enough indicated in Scripture also. I have mentioned Abraham's prayer for Sodom. Gen. 18:20. The Jews asked Moses to go to speak to God on their behalf. God Himself said to Eliphaz, the Themanite, "My wrath is kindled against thee. . . . but my servant Job shall pray for you. His face I will accept that folly be not imputed to you." Job 42:8. Earlier in that same book we read, "Call now if there will be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the Saints." Job 5:1. His enemies meant that Job was too wicked to be heard, but they knew that it was lawful to invoke the Saints. Long after the death of Jeremiah, Onias said of that prophet, "This is the lover of his brethren and of the people of Israel. This is he that prayeth much for the people and for all the holy city; Jeremiah, the prophet of God." 2 Mach. 15:14. St. James says that "prayer of a just man availeth much." 5:16. If his prayer is valuable, it is worth while to ask his prayers. If you say, "Yes. That is all right whilst a man is still in this life and on earth," I ask whether you think he has less power when in Heaven with God? In Rev. 8:4, St. John says that he saw "the prayers of the Saints ascending up before God from the hand of an angel." If I can ask my own mother to pray for me whilst she is still in this life, surely I can do so when she is with God! She does not know less when she rejoices in the Vision of God; she has not less interest in me; and she is not less charitably disposed towards me then. We Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints, and are in communion with them. But for you the doctrine of the Apostles' Creed, "I believe in the Communion of Saints," must be a meaningless formula. Christ is not particularly honored by our ignoring those who loved and served Him best, and whom He loves so much.
66. 66. The Lord's Prayer shows that God Himself hears our prayers.
Correct. And He hears the prayers we address to the Saints, and their prayers also on our behalf And those prayers, added to our own, give us additional claims to be heard by God in a favorable way.
67. 67. By what authority does the Catholic Church make Saints?
The decree of canonization does not make a Saint. It simply declares infallibly that a given person has lived such a holy life with the help of God's grace that he is a Saint. When someone like a Francis of Assisi lives such a holy life that all people are compelled to admire it, the Church is often asked to say whether such a person is worthy to be honored publicly as a Saint. The Church then carefully collects all possible information, and, after due consideration, says yes or no. If the Church says yes, the name of the person to be venerated is put into the Canon or catalogue of those who have become Saints by their heroic lives of virtue. The Church has the authority of Christ for these decisions, for He sent her with His authority to teach all nations in matters of faith and morals, and she could not tell us officially that a given person was a perfect model of Christian virtue if such a person were not.
68. 68. Who has the final say as to whether a soul deserves canonization?
The Pope. Before he defines that a given soul is indeed a Saint, the advocates of their cause must prove that the person in question exercised all Christian virtue in a heroic degree-supreme faith, hope, and charity; perfect prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Also God's own testimony by proven miracles wrought through the person's intercession is required. The infallibility of the Church in such decisions is, as I have said, but an application of ordinary infallibility in matters of faith and morals, in so far as the Church could not err in proposing a given life as an exemplification of perfect Christian virtue.
69. 69. How does the Church know that those she calls Saints are in Heaven?
With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, she can and does know. She knows God, and knows what holiness is. She examines the life of the holy person, and says that such a life certainly could not lead a soul to Hell. The Church canonizes only those whose heroic virtue has been proved. And perfect charity before death destroys all sin, and all punishment due to sin. There is no place where such a soul could be, save in Heaven. Also miracles wrought by God in honor of such a one are His guarantee.
70. 70. Why does the Church allot different duties to different Saints?
She does not. She asks the special protection and intercession of certain Saints in special circumstances; and this is based upon what we know of their particular interest whilst they were on earth, or upon favors obtained already through their intercession since their death.
71. 71. Why do Catholics worship relics of Saints?
They do not worship relics as they worship God, by adoration. If you mean worship in the sense of honor or veneration, then Catholics certainly venerate the relics of Saints. The law, "Honor thy father and thy mother," extends to their persons, body and soul; to their reputations, and to all connected with them. We reverence their remains even after death. And if we are not to venerate the remains and relics of the Saints who have been so entirely consecrated to God, are we to desecrate them? Or are we to be blandly indifferent to them as to the bleached bones of some dead animal lying in the fields? The Catholic doctrine, forbidding adoration, yet commanding respect and veneration, is the only possible Christian conduct.
72. 72. I don't object to that kind of veneration. I object to the expecting of favors through relics.
No real difficulty in this matter. No one holds that material relics of themselves possess any innate talismanic value. But God Himself can certainly grant favors even of a temporal nature through the relics of Saints, thus honoring His Saints, and rewarding the faith and piety of some given Catholic. St. Matthew tells us that the diseased came to Christ. "And they besought Him that they might touch but the hem of His garment. And as many as touched were made whole." Matt. 14:36. Again we read of a woman who touched the hem of Christ's garment and who was cured. "And Jesus, knowing in Himself the virtue that had proceeded from Him, said: "Who has touched my garments." Mk. 5:30. You may reply that these incidents concerned Christ, and that, whilst He was still living in this world. But that does not affect the principle that God can grant temporal favors through inanimate things. And if you look up 2 Kings 13:21, in your own Protestant version of the Bible, you will find that a dead man, who was being buried in the sepulchre of Elisha, was restored to life the moment his body came into contact with the bones of that great prophet of God. In the Acts of the Apostles, too, we read of a most Catholic, and most un-Protestant procedure. "God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles. So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them." Acts 19:11-12. But you will notice that it was God who wrought these miracles. And we Catholics say that God can quite easily do similar things even in our own days. As a matter of historical fact, He has wrought such things throughout the course of the ages within the Catholic Church.
73. 73. Are not relics received and venerated without a particle of proof that they are genuine?
No. The Catholic Church is very prudent in this matter, and her law declares that those relics alone may be publicly venerated which have authentic documents accompanying them, and proving them to be genuine. These documents can be given only by one authorized by the Holy See to grant them. If the documents be lost, no relic may be offered for public veneration by the faithful without a special decree from a Bishop who can guarantee the relic as genuine. But even should a Catholic venerate as a relic some object which is not authentic, such veneration is at least well meant, and directed towards the one whom the object is believed to represent.
74. 74. Why are Catholic Churches decorated with images and statues, in direct violation of the Second Commandment?
The Second Commandment is, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Protestants, of course, call that the Third Commandment. But they are wrong in doing so, having taken that part of the first commandment which refers to images as the second of God's commandments. But do those words forbid the making of images? They do not. God was forbidding idolatry, not the making of images. He said, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image of anything in the Heaven above, or in the earth beneath. Thou shalt not bow down to them nor worship them." God deliberately adds those last words, yet you ignore them. He forbids men to make images in order to adore them. But He does not forbid the making of images. You will find the commandments given in Exodus, 20. But in that same Book, 25:18, you will find God ordering the Jews to make images of Angels! Would you accuse God of not knowing the sense of His own law? He says, "Thou shalt make also two <BCHERUBIMS< b>of beaten gold, on the two sides of the oracle." In other words, the Jews were to make images of things in the Heaven above. And if your interpretation be true, why do you violate God's law by making images of things in the earth beneath? Why images of generals and politicians in our parks? Why photographs of friends and relatives? On your theory you could not even take a snapshot of a gum tree. You would be making an image of a thing in the earth beneath. You strain at a gnat and swallow a camel! This is the fruit of your private interpretation of Scripture. No, God does not forbid the making of images; He forbids the making of images in order to adore them.
75. 75. I have seen more idols in Catholic Churches than sincere Christians.
You have never seen an idol in a Catholic Church. An image is an idol only when it is the object of divine worship. You have seen images in Catholic Churches, but every Catholic knows that divine worship cannot be offered to such images. Would you call the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, an idol? As for your not seeing sincere Christians in a Catholic Church, you cannot expect to test the sincerity of a Christian by the color of his tie or the shape of his shoes. Are not the stained glass windows in your churches images? Are they idols for you? You may not like images of Christ on a Cross, but you make no bones about singing in your hymns "in the Cross of Christ we glory." Is there sense in your singing about the Cross and then rebelling against a real cross?
76. 76. God forbade us to worship plaster statues as Catholics do; yet you send missionaries to convert heathens who do the same thing.
God absolutely forbids us to worship wooden and stone statues, and Catholics are not so foolish as to commit so serious a sin. But Catholics do honor representations of those who are in Heaven, just as we all honor our dead soldiers by tributes of respect to the Cenotaph. If I lift my hat to the flag of my country as I pass the memorial to our dead soldiers, am I honoring the cloth or the stone, or what it stands for? If it be lawful in that case, it is certainly lawful to honor the memorials of the dead heroes of Christianity, the Saints. Our missionaries go to heathen tribes to save them from the idolatrous worship of manmade gods.
77. 77. I have seen Catholics on their knees adoring and praying to statues in their churches.
You have not. You have seen Catholics kneeling at prayer, and perhaps kneeling before an image of Christ, or of Our Lady. But if you concluded that they were praying to the statues that was not the fault of the Catholics. It was your own fault in so far as you judged them according to your own preconceived ideas. Without bothering to ask for information, you guessed and guessed wrongly. Before an image of Mary, Catholics may go on their knees and pray to God through the intercession of that Mother of Christ whom the statue represents. But you have no right to accuse them of praying to the statue. Were you to kneel down by your bedside at night for a last prayer, could you be regarded as adoring or praying to your mattress?
78. 78. But I have seen a Catholic kiss the feet of a statue of Christ.
If I kiss the photograph of my mother, am I honoring a piece of cardboard? Or is it a tribute of love and respect offered to my mother? A Catholic reverences images and statues only in so far as they remind him of God, of Christ, or of Our Lady and the Saints. Where a pagan adores and worships a thing of wood in itself, I kiss the cross, not because it is a piece of wood, but because it stands for Christ and for His sufferings on my behalf. And I am sure that Our Lord looks down from Heaven and says, "Bless the child; he at least appreciates My love for him." Your mistake is that you try to judge interior dispositions from exterior conduct - a dangerous policy always.
79. 79. Catholics raise their hats when passing a church; why not when passing statues in a Catholic store window?
The Catholic who raises his hat when passing a Catholic Church does so as an act of reverence for the Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. But Christ is not thus present in stores selling Catholic articles of devotion. But of course you missed the point, and took it for granted that Catholic men lift their hats because statues are present in the Church. Then you concluded that they ought to do so when they see statues in a store window.
80. 80. If the use of statues is all right, why did the Catholic Church cut out the Second Commandment?
You are asking an impossible question. You might as well ask me, "Why has China declared war on Afghanistan?" No man could answer that question, because there is no answer to it. He could only reply, "Tell me first, are you under the impression that China has declared war on Afghanistan?" And if you replied in the affirmative, he would proceed to correct your notions. Had you but asked me, "Did the Catholic Church cut out the Second Commandment?" a reply could have been given at once. She certainly did not do so.
81. 81. The Protestant Bible gives the Second Commandment as referring to images. But the Catholic Catechism gives it as referring to taking the name of God in vain, omitting the reference to images.
Even the Protestant Bible does not give the Second Commandment as referring to images, though Protestants are usually taught that those words in the First Commandment which refer to images constitute a Second Commandment.
82. 82. The Roman Church omits the Second Commandment, and then breaks up the tenth into two, in order to avoid having only nine.
The reverse is the case. Protestants make the First Commandment into two, and then, to escape having eleven, turn the ninth and tenth into one! The First Commandment, as given in the Bible, is as follows: "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange Gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them. I am the Lord thy God, etc." Exodus 20:1-6.
83. 83. You are deceiving us. That is not what Catholics are taught. I have a Catholic Catechism which gives the First Commandment as, "I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange Gods before me." You cut out the reference to images.
In the first place, if we wished to deceive our people, we would be very foolish to give them the full wording of the Commandment in the Douay Version of the Bible, where they could detect the deliberate distortion! In the second place, in the Catechism we give the full substantial sense of the words I have quoted, but in a brief and summarized form which can be easily memorized.
84. 84. And you deny that you have changed the Commandment.
I do. You notice words only, paying little or no attention to the legal substance of those words. To simplify the wording whilst retaining the full sense is certainly not to change the Commandment. If you say, "He is under an obligation not to give expression to his thoughts at the present moment." I do not change the substance of what you say if I repeat to some small child, "He must not speak now." The First Commandment contains within its involved Hebrew amplification two essential points: that we must acknowledge the true God, and that we must avoid false gods. Those two essential points are put briefly and simply in the Catechism for children who are more at home with short and easy sentences.
85. 85. The Commandments do not require such alteration.
The commandments do not. But the hopeless tangle most Protestants get into where this First Commandment is concerned shows clearly that it needs to be stated precisely, without any substantial alteration. It is not a question of words, but it is a question of law, and Catholic children at least know and can clearly state the law.
86. 86. You are violating the text of Scripture. The reference to images is a separate verse.
The numbering of the verses affords no argument. There was no numerical distinction of verses in the original Scriptures. Nor did God reveal such distinctions. All who are acquainted with the subject know that Scripture was divided into verses by men some centuries after Christ for greater convenience. The method of dividing the commandments, however, is not of very great importance. The complaints of Protestants against the Catholic division are rather like that of some modern daughter who would want to spell her name Smyth, and complains that her mother spells it Smith. But the mother knows best how it should be written, and the mother Church knows best how the Commandments should be numbered.
87. 87. I am interested in Catholic worship. Christ was poor and humble. Yet Catholic ceremonial is full of pomp and display. Does your religion teach humility?
Yes. We are taught to be humble. And Christian humility orders a man to be unassuming and gentle. But it does not forbid a man to worship God as befits God. In fact, the more humble a man is, the more he magnifies and glorifies God, and depreciates self. The Catholic Church says, "God certainly deserves the best we can give Him. Whatever else we may do, let us not be mean in anything where God is concerned. We personally deserve very little, and if by our gifts God's worship is magnificent and we the poorer, that is how it should be." Christ Himself commended the poor widow for giving all she had to the Temple. Yet he was the one who taught humility.
88. 88. Is it not opposed to the simplicity of His principles?
No. Christ was God, and in the Old Testament God dictated a ceremonial every bit as lavish as Catholic ceremonial. So that it cannot be against His principles. And Christ never condemned ceremonial. He instituted the ceremonial of Baptism with water. With ceremony He breathed upon the Apostles when giving them the power to forgive sins. He came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. But above all, He founded His Church, giving into her care the guardianship of His religion, and conferring upon her the power to regulate its worship. Whatever the Church has sanctioned in this matter she has done in virtue of the commission given her by her Founder.
89. 89. The ceremonial of the Church shows a great change since the time of Christ.
You won't find the leaves of an oak tree wrapped up inside an acorn. Christ sowed the seed, and said that the small seed He planted would grow into a vast tree. Such growth supposes external changes without loss of identity. Because an acorn has no branches or foliage, will you deny its identity with the tree into which it grows?
90. 90. The Last Supper had no elaborate ceremonial rites, yet look at the Mass today.
The essential rites of the Mass are exactly the same as those of the Last Supper. Remember that before the simple Last Supper Christ had fulfilled the full ceremonial of the Jewish Feast. He ceremoniously washed the disciples' feet. And the growth of the surrounding rites in the Mass has been in accordance with principles dictated by God to the Jews, and by the actions of Christ throughout His public ministry, when He used so many ceremonies in the miracles He worked.
91. 91. Why do priests vest so elaborately when going to say Mass?
In Exodus 28:2-3, we read of God's prescriptions of the vestments befitting the dignity of His religion. "Thou shalt make a holy vesture for Aaron thy brother; for glory and for beauty. And thou shalt speak to all the wise of heart, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom: that they may make Aaron's vestments, in which he being consecrated may minister to me. And these shall be the vestments that they shall make." Throughout the rest of the chapter God deigns to give the most minute directions as to the various vestments Aaron was to use. Not for a moment would Christ have condemned the principle of vestments after such a sanction by the infinitely wise God. He would be contradicting Himself. There can be nothing wrong with vestments in principle.
92. 92. Christ dressed with the utmost simplicity and talked to God in the most humble places.
Priests also dress with simplicity. They are not always in vestments. As for Christ, He, too, went to the Temple, and took part in its worship, never condemning its ritual. With the establishment of His own Church in fulfillment of the Old Law, He ordained His own priests after the Order of Melchisedech in place of the Levitical Priesthood, and left it to the Church to regulate the ceremonial surrounding the substantial form of worship He had prescribed. As I have said, He would have been the last to condemn a dignified ceremonial, and Anglican Protestants of the High Church group are rapidly trying to resume the vestments prescribed by the Catholic Church, vestments their forefathers so eagerly got rid of, mistakenly, now say the High Church Anglicans.
93. 93. Why the proud display of processions such as those of Eucharistic Congresses?
There is nothing wrong with processions. Christ entered Jerusalem with a procession of the populace crying Hosanna, waving palms and strewing their garments on the roadway, making it as elaborate as they could. And He rebuked those who would have prevented it. Remember that Eucharistic Congresses are not in honor of ourselves, but of Christ, and love of Him suggests that nothing can be too good for Him.
94. 94. When I think of the expense, I think too of the poor, and ask why so much money should be wasted.
Such an objection recalls the words of Judas, "Why was it not sold and given to the poor?" Jn. 12:5. In any case, the lavish generosity of the Catholic Church in the worship of God does not interfere with her work for the poor. She is the most active of all Churches in that work. No other Church has so many institutions, hospitals, homes, and orphanages; and in many parishes there is a weekly distribution of money and food to the poor through the St. Vincent de Paul or some other society.
95. 95. The ritual of the Roman Church is intricate, mysterious, and sensual, whilst the Gospel is simplicity itself.
The ritual of the Catholic Church is not intricate, save to those who are unfamiliar with it. It is certainly symbolical of many mysteries "hidden from the ages and generations, but now manifested." 1 Col. 1:26. It also involves sensible and visible rites, but in no sense can it be called sensual.
96. 96. Is it not blasphemy to use mingle mangle in baptizing children?
It would be. But no mingle mangle occurs in the baptism of children. Mingle mangle means a meaningless jumble of formulas. But every least item in the baptismal rite is full of meaning and significance. And it is to God's honor and glory to use the holy ceremonies instituted by the Church of Christ with the authority of Christ. Was it mingle mangle when Christ touched the blind man's eyes with spittle before curing him?
97. 97. I went to a Requiem Mass, and was highly amused at the antics of the Priest with his gabble and mumble.
That you were highly amused at a Requiem Mass which you did not understand only proves that you are devoid of the power to sympathize with what is sacred to other people. Had you understood it, and then been amused, there might have been some excuse. You say that the whole ceremony was a gabble and a mumble to you. Were you to attend a session of the German parliament in Berlin, you would probably say the same. "But then," you will reply, "I am not a German. It was all right for them. I knew that well enough, and was not amused, because they were not talking my language, and because it is to be expected that their ways would differ from my ways." So I say in turn, "You are not a Catholic. Every Catholic understands a Requiem Mass. But you should have known that a Protestant would not be likely to understand a Catholic ceremony. That would have checked your amusement. I am a Catholic. But I have never felt like ridiculing the religious services of sincere Protestants.
98. 98. Why does the Catholic Church surround death with gloom, offering the Mass in black vestments, and everything so sad and solemn?
The Catholic Church does not surround death with gloom. But her liturgy is in keeping with man's nature as God intended it to be. Despite all spiritual joy and consolation, whilst hearts are human they break. Even God does not expect us to be hard and inhuman, unmoved when some dear one is taken from us. Our Lord wept with those who mourned the death of Lazarus. And He knew that He was going to bring him back to life again! It is natural to man to find relief in expressing his feelings. St. Paul says, "Be not sorrowful as those who have no hope." But he does not say, "Be not sorrowful." In fact he tells Christians to comfort one another. We do not go up to a man who has just lost his mother, and congratulate him, our faces beaming with joy. That would be inhuman, and the Catholic Church is never inhuman. Near relatives instinctively wear mourning, and dress in black when a loved one dies. Very close friends do the same. And the Catholic Church is the dearest friend any Catholic has, a friend who identifies herself with his feelings in his great loss. It is all in keeping with what is best in man. Death is a solemn thing, and the Catholic Church treats it with solemnity. She does not ask us to sorrow as those who have no hope, but she will not turn a funeral into a wedding feast, and ignore genuine and deep sorrow as if we were so spiritual that we had ceased to be human. We are not in heaven yet.
99. 99. Cathedrals costing thousands are nothing to God. He is a Spirit, and would love just as much without the earthly show.
But man would not love so much! You fail to grasp a fundamental point. It takes two to make a religion, God and Man. God is a pure Spirit, but man is not. Man is a composite of the spiritual and the material. And he must worship God according to his twofold nature. Man not only possesses spiritual thoughts; he gives them expression in speech, writing, music, art and architecture. And, where God is concerned, he dedicates all these things to God's service in religion. God Himself ordered the Jews to do so, commanding the erection of the glorious Temple at Jerusalem. God wants the service, not of half our being, but of our complete being.
100. 100. In Europe I found glorious Cathedrals and pitiable poverty side by side.
The present-day poverty is not due to the Cathedrals which were built long ago by others, who gave their time and services as a voluntary offering to God. The poverty due to modern industrial conditions should not be attributed to buildings erected in other and happier ages. Meantime those beautiful Cathedrals do no harm to men. If the poor pulled them down stone by stone, they could not eat the stones. And even if they could sell them for thirty pieces of silver, the relief would be of a very temporary nature. Believe me, future generations would be just as poor temporally, and much poorer spiritually, with no inspiring Cathedrals.
101. 101. Does crawling up the Scala Santa at Rome on one's knees help save one's soul?
The Scala Santa, or Holy Staircase, consists of twenty-eight marble steps. They are said to have been brought to Rome from Jerusalem by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, in 326 A. D. At Jerusalem they led up to the one-time court of Pilate, and the feet of Jesus had trodden them as He went down to be crucified by men. With no idea that such an act will of itself save his soul, the Catholic ascends them on his knees out of reverence for Christ, and you have not much reverence and love for Him if you ridicule such a tribute. We Catholics, after all, believe that He is God. We are quite prepared to kiss the very ground whereon He stood. The Pharisees once ridiculed a woman who went on her knees and washed His feet with her tears. But Christ justified her act of loving reverence. Cold Protestantism will never understand the warm-hearted love of Catholicism for the Person of Christ and of all connected with Him. I do not belong to the emotional and demonstrative Latin race. I do not live in the middle ages. I do not suppose I would be ranked as illiterate. Yet whilst in Rome I myself ascended those same stairs on my knees, and I experience no flush of shame as I say so. I have seen a Protestant kiss the pages of the Gospel. He kissed a printed sheet of paper. I admired him for it, and so would you, for we know what it meant to him. I certainly would not ridicule him and ask him sarcastically whether he thought that the smearing of his lips on a piece of paper could help to save his soul! Yet such a remark would be similar to that of a Protestant who suggests that Catholics believe they can be saved by crawling up a staircase on their knees. However you would not have asked such a question had you realized the nature of the subject and the motives prompting such reverence for Christ.
IMPRIMATUR: Joannes Gregorius Murray Archiepiscopus Sancti Pauli.
Written by Fr. Chas. M.
Carty, Rev. Dr. L. Rumble, M.S.C.
Copyright 1976 by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.
Originally published by
Fathers Rumble and Carty Radio Replies Press, Inc.
St. Paul, Minn., U.S.A.
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Here is the text of the one on Purgatory:
†IMPRIMATUR: Joannes Gregorius Murray Archiepiscopus Sancti Pauli.
Written by Fr. Charles M. Carty Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble, M.S.C. Copyright 1976 by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.
Originally published by Fathers Rumble and Carty Radio Replies Press, Inc. St. Paul, Minn., U.S.A.
PURGATORY QUIZZES TO A STREET PREACHER
1. Do the Scriptures speak about praying for the dead?
The Second Book of Machabees tells us that after Judas had defeated Gorgias, he came to bury the slain Jews. "Making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacri fice to be offered for the sins of the dead." 2Mach 12:43. Evidently Judas did not regard their sins to be grievous, for he says, "because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them." That praying for the dead was a Jewish practice is manifested in these words: 2Mach 12:45. "It is, therefore, a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." 2Mach 12:46.
2. But the Books of Machabees are not contained in the Protestant Bible so why quote it to prove your doctrine?
The reformers rejected these books from the Bible precisely because they taught the doctrine of pray ing for the dead. If you Protestants deny that the Books of Machabees are two of the inspired books of the Bible then you must admit them as historical records of Jewish faith in praying for the dead.
3. Does the New Testament speak of your Purgatory?
Not in name but in fact. Mt. 12:32: "He that shall speak against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come." St. Augustine and St. Gregory gather from these words that some sins may be remitted in the world to come; and consequently that there is a Purgatory. St. Paul 1Cor. 3:13-15: "The fire shall try every manís work of what sort it is. If any manís work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." St. Paul tells us in these words that the soul shall be judged, suffer for a time and then be saved. The only place to suffer for a time before being saved is Purgatory. St. Mt. 5:25-26 speaks of the Prison, "and thou be cast into Prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence, till thou pay the last farthing."
4. Did the early Christians believe in Purgatory?
The tombs of the martyrs and the catacombs are filled with definite evidence to prove that the early Christians certainly believed in Purgatory. On their tombs we read: "In your prayers remember us who have gone before you." "Mayest thou have eternal light in Christ." Tertullian (160-240) speaks of anniversary Masses for the dead: "We make on one day every year ablations for the dead, as for their birthdays." "The faithful widow ... offers prayers on the anniversary of his death." St. Monica just before dying made this request of her son St. Augustine: "Lay this body anywhere; let not the care of it in any way disturb you. This only I request of you, that you would remember me at the altar of the Lord, wherever you be." St. Augustine then petitions, . . . "And inspire, . . . that as many shall read these words may remember at Thy Altar, Monica, Thy servant." Hence no sane student of history can deny the fact of this universal custom of the early Church, i.e., of praying for the dead because she believed in Purgatory.
5. Did the Jews believe in Purgatory?
Certainly the Jews believed in offering prayers and sacrifice for their departed friends and relatives and they still believe in this custom for they are found always at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. In their liturgy for funerals of Hebrews the prayers for the dead read as though they were Catholic prayers for the dead.
6. Did Luther believe in Purgatory?
No. Fr. Conway in "Question Box," says, "Lutherís false theory of justification by faith alone led him to deny the distinction between mortal and venial sin, the fact of temporal punishment, the necessity of good works, the efficacy of indulgences, and the usefulness of prayers for the dead. If sin is not remitted but only covered; if the ĎNew Maní of the Gospel is Christ imputing His own justice to the still sinful man, it would indeed be useless to pray for the dead that they be loosed from their sins. Lutherís denial of Purgatory implied either the cruel doctrine that the greater number of even devout Christians were lost, which accounts in some measure for the modern denial of eternal punishment, or the unwarranted assumption that God by Ďsome sudden, magical changeí purifies the soul at the instant of death. "Protestant prayers for the dead, if ever they pray for the dead, are a waste of time and are meaningless unless they admit a Purgatory.
7. Christ sent the good thief immediately into Paradise. I donít see the need of your Purgatory.
The good thief gained Paradise immediately because of his perfect contrition and anyone dying in the state of contrition that is judged perfect by God immediately merits Heaven. Whether our contrition is perfect or imperfect depends on Godís judgment. The Book of Wisdom (7:25) declares that "nothing defiled cometh" into the presence of the Spirit of Wisdom. St. John in the Apocalypse describes the new Jerusalem and says (21:27), "There shall not enter into it anything defiled." This means that souls must be purified of slight blemishes of venial sins which involve temporal punishment still to be suffered. Common sense tells us that some are not worthy to enter at once into Heaven and that they are not bad enough to be doomed to hell. There must, therefore be an intermediate state where the soul is cleansed of its defilement. It is contrary to nature not to, pray for the departed friend or relative. The instinct of nature creates a hope that every thing is all right with the departed, and, if not, there is found a latent urge to help with prayer and sacrifice. Purgatory robs death of its terrors. When the Reformers denied this doctrine they drove a stiletto into the Scriptures and the unbroken tradition of the Christian Church. They choked and stifled the inherent cravings of our hearts. If I can pray for my mother when she is alive then why not when she is dead, that she, too, be loosed of her sins? Can we not then hear the cry of Job: "Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hands of the Lord hath touched me." Job 19:21. Tennyson gives testimony to the natural yearning of the human heart and to the Christian tradition, when he writes: "I have lived my life, and that which I have done May He within Himself make pure; but thou, If thou shouldst never see my face again, Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice Rise like a fountain for me night and day."
8. I am interested in your dogma concerning Purgatory. Must I be a Catholic before I can understand that invention of your Church.
No. You must be a non-Catholic to suspect that the Church did invent it. The idea that there is no Purgatory is the invention of Protestants. The Reformers corrupted the true doctrine, and many good Protestants, realizing this, are returning to the Catholic religion of their forefathers. Meantime, if I could discover, or you could show me when and where the Church invented this doctrine, I promise to spend the rest of my life exposing the Catholic Church as a merely human institution making outrageous claims upon men.
9. Why make people afraid of such a horrible place as Purgatory, when you know that it does not exist?
I know that it does exist. And if you deny it be-cause to you it seems a horrible place, you must deny hell also because it is far more horrible. And if you deny hell, you deny Christianity. And is it not a more horrible thought that there would be no Purgatory? In that case you would have but Heaven and hell. All not quite fit for Heaven could not hope to escape hell. It is a much more pleasant thought that there are people not quite good enough for Heaven, yet not had enough for hell, and that these are sent to Purgatory until they are purified sufficiently for Heaven.
10. What is the nature of your doctrine on Purgatory?
It can be summed up very briefly. At death the soul of man, if quite fit, goes at once to Heaven; if not quite fit, to Purgatory; if quite unfit, to hell. The soul which has repented of all its sins, and has fully expiated them in this life, is quite fit for Heaven at once. The soul which departs this life in a state of unrepented mortal sin can never be fitted for Heaven, and goes to hell. But a soul which has sincerely repented of its sins, yet has not fully expiated them, secures immunity from hell by repentance, and goes to Purgatory until it has expiated all its deficiencies.
11. Does God want to roast you merely because you have the misfortune to be alive?
He knows that you had no say in the matter. God does not want to roast me. It is not a misfortune to be alive, though it is blame-worthy to have misused oneís existence. Nor did I want a say as to whether I should receive the gift of existence. People can leave me a fortune tomorrow without consulting me. But I did have a say in my infidelities to Godís grace, and for that I am responsible and do not wish to excuse myself.
12. Have you been so atrociously wicked as to deserve Purgatory?
There is no need to be atrociously wicked in order to need purification, any more than there is need to be on your deathbed before you need medicine. But there is need to attain to a high standard of purity and holiness before one could be fit to enter the glory of Godís presence.
13. Do Protestants go to Purgatory?
All who die in the charity of Christ whether they have known Him or not escape hell. If they are not good enough to enter Heaven they go to Purgatory. Between souls united to Christ in Heaven and on earth and in Purgatory there flourishes a most intimate relation. We ask each otherís prayers on earth; we do not believe that our holiest and best lose their power to pray for us merely because they have been transferred to Heaven, so we often ask them to continue so doing. In the Communion of Saints we have the Church Triumphant assisting the Church Militant, and the Church Militant by prayers and indulgences assisting the Church Suffering. Hence you see that the Church has nothing to do with hell. But she has a very intimate connection with both Purgatory and Heaven. The Church has nothing to do with hell, because it is no use praying for those who are in hell and there is no need to pray for those who are safely in Heaven, it is obvious that there is a place of temporal suffering, or purification, or purgation-Purgatory. Since Protestants admit only a Heaven and a Hell it is absurd and useless for them to pray for the dead.
14. Would God destine so good a man as George Washington for Purgatory just because he was not a Catholic?
Purgatory is not a final destiny. Every soul that goes there is saved, and is ultimately admitted to the very Vision of God. Good Protestants as well as good Catholics will go there if they are not quite perfect at death. There is no dispensation. And where is the man who has not his imperfections?
15. A man has every chance to repent in this life.
He has. And if he does not, he will not even go to Purgatory if his sins be grave. Purgatory is not a place for repentance, but for purification. If two men repent on their deathbeds, one of whom broke one commandment and the other, all the commandments often, both are saved by their repentance. But they are not both equal before God. They will suffer relative purifications in Purgatory.
16. This dogma of Purgatory was invented by Pope Gregory in 600 A.D., and was made an article of faith by the Council of Florence in 1439.
If not invented until 600 A.D., why did St. Monica, in the fourth century, implore her son St. Augustine, as she lay on her dying bed, that he would pray for her soul whenever he went to the Altar to offer the Mass? And how would you account for the inscriptions in the catacombs recording prayers for the dead offered by the Christians of the first centuries? Or, if you would go back earlier, what will you do with the teaching of Scripture itself. The Council of Florence merely recalled previous definitions.
17. What is your Romish reply to the challenge of Article XXII in the Book of Common Prayer?
That Article of the Church of England says that the Romish doctrine of Purgatory is grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but is rather repugnant to the Word of God. The reply is that the Article is quite erroneous, and that many Anglicans realize the fact. Thus an Anglican clergyman unsays that Article definitely in this book entitled, "The Catholic Religion: A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Church of England." He speaks of a place of mercy "provided in the intermediate state, in which evil will be completely purged. When this purification is accomplished, such souls enter into perfect peace," p. 193. On the following page he suggests that, at the Reformation, men were too eager and rejected much that was true - including the intermediate state. In no less than six different places he urges prayer for the dead just as Catholics pray for the dead, and, as he shows from Scripture, both the Jews and St. Paul prayed for the departed. On p. 379, he writes, "Still more desirable is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the repose of the soul of the departed." Thus this Anglican clergyman goes back to the Romish doctrine of Purgatory. I am not quoting from a book unacceptable to the many. My copy is of the 19th edition, completing 207 thousand.
18. How can an Anglican clergyman who has sworn to accept the articles of Religion, teach such doctrine?
I do not see how he can do so. Romish theologians are simple children compared with the capacity for mental gymnastics manifested by Rev. Vernon Staley, the author of the book, in his efforts to salve his conscience. He says in effect that the doctrine of Purgatory is all right, but that Anglicans must not use the word Purgatory. He admits the thing but not its terminology. He calls it a place or process of cleansing, but he will not call it Purgatory, which means the same thing. It is as if we Catholics had invented the word theatre. Then this exponent of Anglicanism would insist upon using the word playhouse, and swear that he did not agree with the Catholic Church concerning houses of entertainment. In substance he declares Article XXII to be false and unscriptural.
19. You speak of Scripture, but the Bible mentions only Heaven and hell.
It does not. It certainly mentions an intermediate state to which the soul of Christ went after His death on the cross. 1Pet. 3:19. This state was neither Heaven nor hell, but the Limbo of the Fathers of the Old Law. In addition to this, Scripture mentions the purgatorial state. In any case, it would not matter if the Bible did mention but two places. My mentioning only London and New York could not prove the nonexistence of Paris. It would be a different matter if Christ had said, "There is no Purgatory." But He did not.
20. How do you prove the existence of such a state?
In Matt. 5:26, Christ, in condemning sin, speaks of liberation only after expiation in the prison. "Thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing." In Matt. 12:32, He speaks of sin which "shall not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come." Any remission of the effects of sin in the next world can refer only to Purgatory. Above all St. Paul tells us that the ray of judgment will try each manís work. That day is after death, when the soul goes to meet its God. What is the result of that judgment? If a manís work will not stand the test St. Paul says that "he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall he saved, yet so as by fire." 1Cor. 3:15. This cannot refer to eternal loss in hell, for no one is saved there. Nor can it refer to Heaven, for there is no suffering in Heaven. Purgatory alone can explain this text. As a matter of fact, all Christians believed in Purgatory until the Reformation, when the Reformers began their rejection of Christian doctrines at will. Prayer for the dead was ever the prevailing custom, in accordance with the recommendation of the Bible itself. "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." 2Mach. 12:46. Prayer for the dead supposes a soul not in Heaven where it does not need the help of prayer, nor in hell where prayer cannot assist it. Some intermediate state of purification and need, where prayer can help, is necessary. And the doctrine is most reasonable. "There shall not enter into the new Jerusalem anything defiled." Apo. 21:27. Yet not all defilement should cost man the loss of his soul. Small offenses are punished by fines or by temporary imprisonment, after which the delinquent is liberated. Those who deny Purgatory teach the harder and more unreasonable doctrine.
21. God would not demand expiation after having forgiven the sin.
What you think God would do or would not do cannot avail against that which He does do. When David repented of his great sin God sent the prophet Nathan with the message to him, "The Lord hath taken away thy sin. Nevertheless, because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, thy child shall surely die." 2 Sam. 12:14. To forgive the guilt of sin, and purify the spiritual scar and stain, which that disease of the soul leaves, by expiatory suffering, is better than to leave the soul still unpurified and indebted to Godís justice. I, too, could fully forgive a friend his offense should he have robbed me, yet still insist that he make good the damage he has wrought me.
22. What is the punishment of Purgatory?
When the soul leaves the body, that which can think, remember, love, hate, be happy or miserable, has gone from that body. A corpse cannot do these things. And the soul, with these capabilities, goes into a new state of being as a separated spirit. And my true self, separated from the distractions of this world, will perceive clearly and fully its own unfitness for Godís presence, a perception which will mean unspeakable suffering. The exact nature of this suffering we do not know, but it is compared in Scripture to the action of fire afflicting a sensitive body. Although it is not defined as a dogma that there is a real fire of Purgatory, it is the general opinion of theologians that there is a real fire somewhat analogous to the fire of hell. However it be explained, the fact that purgatorial suffering awaits the imperfect has been revealed by God.
23. When did God make Purgatory?
Heaven, of course, always existed. For where God is, there is Heaven. Hell was made when the devil and his followers fell from grace. There was no Purgatory for them. Purgatory, then, was made when men began to sin and die with sins repented of, but not fully expiated by the sufferings of this life. Men under the Old Law went to Purgatory just as those do who live under the New Law.
24. Where is Purgatory?
God has not deigned to satisfy our curiosity on that point, and the knowledge is not of practical importance to us. The fact that there is a Purgatory has been revealed by God. And when He reveals a fact, we cannot say to Him, "Well, I for one refuse to believe it until You tell me more about it." God proves a thing by saying it, for He is truth itself. We have but to prove that He said it.
25. How do you know that there are any souls in Purgatory?
I know that 100,000 people die daily. I refuse to believe that they all go to hell, and feel quite sure that they are not all fit for immediate entry into Heaven. Moreover, you would find far more difficulty in endeavoring to show that there are no souls in Purgatory.
26. How do you know that you can help the souls in Purgatory by your prayers?
God would not have inspired the Jews to pray for the departed if such prayers were of no avail. Christians have always prayed for the dead, a practice fully warranted by the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. And if we can pray for our dear ones who are in trouble in this life, our prayers can certainly follow them in their future difficulties. All prayer is addressed to the same God who is as present to the souls of our dear departed as He is to us.
27. Is your own personal conviction such that you will want others to pray for you?
It is. All who have the Catholic faith believe in prayer for the dead. It is not a doctrine for the laity only. And I sincerely hope that friends will pray for me and have Masses offered on my behalf when God has taken me from this world. I shall need them. Nothing defiled will enter Heaven, and if at death oneís soul is not absolutely perfect in virtue proportionately to the grace it has received, it is defiled by imperfection of some sort. "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1Jn.1:8. Masses and prayers offered for me after my death will help to expiate such imperfections as I unfortunately possess.
28. So you expect to get redemption on the nod! You are fortunate.
I am. And not a soul will be saved who does not owe it to the death of Christ on the cross, and who will not admit that this was a purely free and gratuitous gift wholly undeserved by men. Mass merely applies the satisfactory value of Christís death to my soul. Meantime, those who deny Purgatory and the necessity to expiation wish to obtain salvation much more "on the nod," as you call it, than Catholics.
29. Joseph McCabe says that Purgatory is the most lucrative doctrine ever invented by priests.
He is the last man from whom you should seek information about the Catholic Church. I am a priest, and know as much about the Catholic Church as Joseph McCabe ever did. And my judgment is not warped by hatred. The doctrine of Purgatory was revealed by God. It is not a lucrative doctrine invented for financial reasons. Popes, Bishops, and priests all believe in it on exactly the same footing as the faithful, and it is my consolation that many priests have already promised to offer Mass for me as soon as they hear of my death. And they will receive nothing for doing so.
30. Yet priests accept offerings for Masses under false pretenses.
They do not. A priest will accept an offering on the understanding that he will say a special Mass for the intentions of the person making the offering. In accepting an offering from one person he forfeits the support he would receive from another in exercising his ministry on that otherís behalf.
31. It is a source of revenue which no priest dare fail to utilize. The selling of Masses must be most profitable.
That remark shows that you do not understand the nature of Mass offerings at all. Priests do not sell Masses, and the people do not pay for Masses. The Mass cannot be bought or sold. Even were I to say that the priest offers the Mass and is paid, not for the Mass, but for his time and services, any evil element such as you suggest would be excluded. It matters little whether a chaplain be given a salary for a yearís service, or a special offering for a special service. However the explanation is deeper than that. In the Old Law the people brought tithes and percentages of their goods and dedicated them to God. The gift was directly made to God, and once given, ceased to belong to the giver and belonged entirely to God. Then God made use of these gifts for the support of His religious ministers, inviting them to be His guests. The same spirit characterizes Catholic practice. A Catholic wishes to offer the sacrifice of the Mass to God. He is not compelled to do so. Now the Mass is a sacrifice instituted by Christ, but it supposes the outward necessities, bread, wine, altar, vestments, and a living human being authorized by God to offer it in the name of Christ and of the Church. The Catholic offers to God all that is necessary, and indeed offers a personal sacrifice by contributing towards the up keep of the altar and towards the very life of the priest who is to stand at the altar on his behalf. Since he has made this offering to God, the Mass is applied according to his intention. Thus, when you attack the idea that the priest sells the Mass to a Catholic, you are not attacking Catholic doctrine or practice at all.
32. Your harnessing Purgatory to the idea of offerings to God is most ingenious. So the Church is equal to God?
I do not harness Purgatory to the idea of offerings to God. I give the simple Catholic explanation, according to the doctrine of Christ as recorded by St. Paul. "They that serve the altar partake with the altar. So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live by the gospel." 1 Cor. 9:1314. And as a matter of fact Purgatory does not necessarily come into it. It is a question of offering Mass for any intention whatever. Some Masses are offered for those we love and who have departed from this world. Nor is the Church made equal to God. She is but commissioned by God to attend to matters connected with His due worship. If I wished to give a friend a valuable plant in his garden, I would not be elevating the gardener to the status of my friend.
33. How can you as an honest man support the extortion of hard earned money from the poor?
I could not support extortion, but I can honestly say that only a person absolutely ignorant of things Catholic could imagine that money is extorted from the poor for Masses.
34. Donít priests visit the bereaved and tell them that so many dollars are required per week for Masses?
No. Catholics are taught the truth from the pulpit in general. They are told that it is good to have Masses offered for the dead if possible; as indeed it is. Apart from that, the matter is left to the spontaneous desire of individuals. And they are never required to have such Masses offered.
35. If you do not extort, you press home the fact that, unless such Masses are said, the soul of the loved one will remain in Purgatory.
That is not true. There are many ways in which we can help our deceased relatives and friends, apart from having Masses offered for them. We can offer our own assistance at Mass, and our Holy Communions; we can offer any prayers we wish, or our sufferings, and acts of Christian mortification. It is good to have Mass offered specially for them if possible. But that is not the only way in which we can help them. Nor has anyone ever maintained that a soul necessarily remains in Purgatory until Masses shall have been offered.
36. Why donít priests pray for the souls of the poor without payment of money which only the rich can afford?
Priests pray every day for the souls in Purgatory without payment of money, and without any discrimination between the rich and the poor. When someone asks for a special intercessory Mass, offering the customary stipend, the priest will comply with the request. But this is in addition to his personal prayers for the dead.
37. But would they say Masses for the poor?
Thousands of Masses are said every year for the poor by thousands of priests, when no offering at all is made. As a matter of fact the law of the Church obliges a parish priest to offer Mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation for his parishioners, excluding all private requests and offerings And every priest in a spirit of charity, often offers Mass for the special intentions of poor people who cannot afford any offering.
38. The fact remains that the Catholic Church derives millions from Masses, as Joseph McCabe points out.
Naturally the offerings of millions of people would amount to millions. That is to be expected. Nigh a million people in the Twin Cities contribute some millions yearly for various transport services; but the individual traveler is not unreasonably burdened, and the officials do not receive exorbitant remuneration. Your point proves nothing save the numerical strength of the Catholic Church, four hundred times as numerous throughout the world as the nigh million population of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul.
39. So Purgatory has been able to extort millions?
It extorts nothing. The truth revealed by God inspires Catholics to have Masses offered for their departed friends and relatives. And those Catholics, who can afford to do so, desire by personal sacrifice to render the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass their own special offering to God.
40. From offerings for Masses in England about a quarter of a million is raked in yearly.
Proportionately to their numbers that averages a penny per week from individual Catholics, and yields about sixty cents per week to the individual priest.
41. In the United States it means a sum of between one and two millions a year.
The margin of difference is rather wide; however, taking the amount as two millions, for the Catholic population of the United States the average is again less than ten cents a year from the individual towards the support of priests from this source. And at McCabeís maximum, the individual priest would receive the average income of one dollar per week from such Mass offerings.
42. Setting out the millions at so much per head is unsound, if ingenious. Not everyone pays, and those who do are made to feel it.
My argument is not unsound. It is unsound to talk of millions without mentioning the distribution of the sources from which they come. Nor is any Catholic made to feel that he is paying. In fact, no Catholic is made to pay in any sense of the word, for there is no obligation to have Masses offered at all for oneís personal intentions.
43. Can any honest man be proud of all this? The New Testament says that he who serves the altar should live by the altar. 1Cor. 9:13-14. And certainly the man who devotes the whole of his life to the welfare of his people can quite honestly accept a small percentage from the earnings of those to whose welfare he is devoted. The priest has to live. He is more constantly at his work than the man who controls a transport system for the convenience of citizens and who derives his living from the small contributions of those who use those services. And the priestís work is more important and more responsible. Moreover, the average priest barely gets a living, and many have to be subsidized or they could scarcely live at all.
44. At any rate, has not the soul of a rich man a better chance than the soul of a poor man?
We cannot make such a comparison. The rich man who provides for the offering of Masses for the repose of his soul has a better chance of diminishing his Purgatory than the rich man who makes no such provision.
45. I want my question answered. A rich man leaves $1,000 for Masses for his soul. A poor man leaves but $ 1. Who has the better chance of entering Heaven?
If both died in a state of unrepented mortal sin, neither of them has any chance. If both died in a state of grace, both will certainly enter Heaven. All souls which depart this life in a state of grace will eventually enter Heaven. However, some souls need more purification in Purgatory than others. The question, then, is whether the wealthier man will secure the more rapid purification, and enter Heaven more easily than the poor man. Not necessarily. The $1 may easily have been the greater generosity relatively than the $1,000. The dispositions of the poor man could easily have been more pleasing to God than those of the rich man. The very poverty and suffering of the poor man in this life was already expiation; so much so that Christ practically says that Heaven belongs almost by special right to the poor, declaring that the rich with their life of comfort and self-indulgence will enter Heaven with great difficulty. The poor man might scarcely need the few Masses he asks, whilst the rich man, with all his Masses, may have far more to expiate. Then, too, the departed can benefit by Masses and prayers within certain limits only. Anything over and above those limits would be applied to other souls. St. Augustine clearly taught in the fourth century, "There is no doubt that our prayers can benefit those who so lived as to deserve to be benefited by them." He recommends sacrifice on their behalf, whether of the altar, or of prayers, or of almsgiving, adding, "Although they do not benefit all for whom they are offered, but those only who deserved during life to benefit by them." But we can safely leave the adjusting of all these things to God.
46. How do priests know when a soul escapes from Purgatory?
Souls do not escape from Purgatory as criminals from jail, or birds from a cage. When they are sufficiently purified for the vision of God they are admitted to Heaven. And no one knows when this occurs, unless God gives a special revelation, a favor we have no right to ask.
47. Then you might he praying for a soul not in Purgatory at all!
That is quite possible. Granted that we believe in Purgatory, that our prayers can help the dead, and that we do not know for certain whether our dear ones are emancipated from their purifications or not, we continue praying for them. We give them, rather than ourselves, the benefit of any doubt. We argue that our prayers may possibly benefit them, not that they may possibly be wasted. And we would certainly risk saying too many for them rather than allow them to run the risk of being deprived of help.
48. On that score, Catholics would go on praying and having Masses said as long as they live. Quite so. Is it a fault to be generous as long as one lives? And are such earnest prayers harmful?
I am a priest. My own mother has gone to God. I shall certainly offer Masses for her as long as I am able to do so and am free from other obligations. If, long before my death, her purification is finished and she is enjoying the happiness of Heaven, I know that not a single prayer or Mass will be wasted. There are other souls in Purgatory, and no Catholic begrudges the application of his prayers and sacrifices to other souls should his own dear ones have no need of them.
49. I must confess that I find all this rather baffling.
You are outside Catholicity, and no more under stand the spirit of the Catholic religion than a man standing outside a Cathedral can discern the wonderful beauty of the stained glass windows from within. But a reasonable man would say, "Well, I can hardly expect to perceive the real sense and design from here. But there must be something in it, and if I cannot enter the building I must be content to be without an understanding of that windowís real beauty." But you stand outside the building of Catholic doctrine, stare at practices you cannot expect to understand from outside, and express astonishment that you see nothing in them.
50. Purgatory would be a stumbling block for me were I to become a Catholic.
John L. Stoddard whilst in the quest for the sure light of religious truth received this illuminating letter from a Catholic friend: "There is hardly a religious system of antiquity in which some similar provision (to Purgatory) is not found. It was left for the ĎReformersí of the sixteenth century to reject this immemorial dogma of the Church. When they denied the sanctity of the Mass and many other sacramental features of Catholicism, the doctrine of Purgatory went with the rest. If the souls of the dead pass instantly into an eternally fixed state, beyond the efficacy of our intercessions, then all our requiems, prayers and similar practices are vain. But if, on the contrary, we believe in the Communion of Saints, that is, in the intercession of the threefold Church, militant on earth, suffering in Purgatory, and triumphant in Heaven, then we on earth can influence, and be influenced by, the souls who have crossed the border. Few, indeed, quit this life in a state of purity and grace which warrants their immediate entrance into Heaven. Still fewer, let us hope, are those to whom the blessed refuge of Purgatory, that halfway house of our dead, is closed. I cannot conceive how Protestants can believe as they do on this point, nor is it astonishing that their rejection of Purgatory, has been followed in the case of many, by the elimination of a belief in hell; for the latter doctrine, taken alone, is monstrous. In fact, all Catholic doctrines are interdependent; they stand or fall together. You cannot pick stones out of the arch, and expect humane and beautiful conceptions imaginable. How many mothersí aching hearts has it not soothed and comforted with hope for some dead, wayward son."
51. Was this letter the cause of Stoddardís quitting Agnosticism for Catholicism?
It made a powerful appeal and served as one of the stepping stones to the conversion of this famed lecturer and writer. In his book, "Rebuilding a Lost Faith," he says this: "The doctrine of the Catholic Church in reference to Purgatory states that there is such a place, in which souls suffer for a time, be fore they can be admitted to the joys of Heaven, because they still need to be cleansed from certain venial sins, infirmities and faults, or still have to discharge the temporal punishment due to mortal sins, which is as yet uncancelled, though the lasting punishment of those sins has been forgiven and re moved through Christís atonement. Furthermore, the Church declares, that by our prayers and by the acceptable sacrifice of the Mass we may still help those souls, through the merits of Christ. Beyond this statement the Churchís formal doctrine does not go; but it is not an article of Catholic faith that there is in Purgatory any material fire. It is generally believed that souls in Purgatory suffer spiritual anguish from the fact that they then feel acutely, as they could not do on earth, the perfect happiness from which they are for a time excluded, while they must also understand the enormity of the sins which they committed against their Heavenly Father and their Savior."
52. Why should suffering be required to cleanse us?
According to Rev. J. B. McLaughlin, O.S.B., in his book, "Purgatory or The Church Suffering," we have this answer: "Some have thought of God as a hard creditor, fixing the tax of pain for every sin or every sinner. But we must not think that right and wrong are fixed arbitrarily by God; for they rest on His very nature. Not, it is right that we should suffer for sin, since God so commands; rather, He commands it because it is right. And in His goodness He has made us like Himself; giving us light not only to see what is His will, but also to see to some extent what He sees. Therefore, let us try to see why it is right that after repenting our sins we must suffer for them. Consider a spirit, angel or man, that defies God and disobeys His will. Imagine that God consents to this; treats the rebellious spirit as a welcome friend, as a fitting companion for the sinless angels and for God Him self. Imagine that God creates spirits such that they can find eternal and untroubled happiness in defying their Maker, and can bask unrebuked in His love. Do we not feel at once that this is not God that we are picturing? That in some way eternal justice would be violated if these things were possible, and the holiness of God would be profaned? If God be God, such defyings and rebellion and all unholiness must be hateful to Him. His very nature requires that all sin shall bring its own punishment on the sinner. Again, consider the sinner who discovers and realizes what he has done in defying his Maker. He sees at once that punishment unthinkable is his due. Only two alternatives seem possible to him: the despair of devils and of Judas, if he has lost all love for God; or, if he keeps any root of love, then the wish to suffer to the limits of his nature that in some way he may acknowledge the majesty and the holiness that he has outraged. To him comes the gift of hope; the seemingly unbelievable yet certain knowledge that Godís all-mastering power can so change him from his sin that he shall be as if he had never sinned. The Magdalen shall dwell unabashed with the spotless Mother of God; yea, and with God Him self. With this hope to enlighten him, the sinner sees he is to make an atonement far ampler than he had thought. He will suffer now, and by his sufferings not only atone to the Majesty he had insulted; but also will restore to God the servant and friend who seemed lost, rendering up his own soul new made in the fires of Godís love."
53. What reasons do you give that there should be suffering for sin?
"There are, therefore, two reasons for suffering for sin: first, atonement to God; and second, the remaking of our souls. And we can see that suffering for these purposes may well last long. If we look at the suffering endured to atone to God, there is no reason why it should ever end, except His mercy. And the remaking of our souls is slow. A wound or sprain is received in an instant, but very slowly is it healed. A sin is committed in an instant by an act of will, and forgiven in an instant when the will submits in love to God; but the mischief wrought by the sin in our nature is deep, and slow to mend." See McLaughlin, "Purgatory."
54. Are Catholics the only ones who believe in Purgatory?
The Jews have believed in Purgatory and even amongst the pagans we find the same belief. "False religions," says McLaughlin, "such as Buddhism and Spiritualism, have recognized this fact, that at death most men are not yet fitted for eternal rest. All false religions are built of fragments of truth, built up into a nightmare of falsehood. Here the question they face is a real question. All our lives we see before us a high standard calling us to live up to it, and at death we have not reached it; how are we to reach it after death? They invent wild and sometimes ghastly answers. But the true answer is: by the power of God, through the purifying power of suffering; and this we name Purgatory. These false religions think only of the perfecting of manís soul, not of giving God His due. And thereby they leave out the highest part of manís perfection.
Certainly man should grieve that he has lowered and degraded himself by sin, and should rejoice to rise to better things. This grief is a necessary part of the whole agony entailed by sins; but if it stand alone it is merely pride, part of a great rejection of truth. For the chief cause of agony ought to be the knowledge that he has ill-treated God, despised His majesty, outraged His holiness, rejected His love. The soul in Purgatory, realizing what is due to God, loving Him with its whole being, will wish above all things to atone for its sin by suffering worthy punishment. If it could be content to leave in the smallest degree unrepaired the wrongs it has done to God, it would be far from the perfection that is possible to saints even in this life. In Purgatory the soul longs to suffer in order to be clean, to suffer in order to reach God; but above all these is its longing to suffer in order to make amends to the Divine Majesty, Holiness, Love. For its love of God is everything to it now; its desire for its own purification and happiness is part of its love for God."
55. What was Lutherís error on Purgatory?
"The Church had to condemn an error of Lutherís, that the souls in Purgatory sin ceaselessly, by desiring rest and shrinking from their sufferings. This error comes from not understanding that all sin is in the will, and in the act of the will; the act whereby we choose definitely to do this and not that. Besides this act of choosing, there are many other desires in our nature; and these may be the cause of sin, or the material of sin, or the effect of sin; but they are not sin. Consider a man who has a long-standing dislike of another, which has often led him to follow trains of thought hostile to that man, and ending in finding further reasons for disliking him. Sin was committed in the act of consenting to follow these thoughts. Suppose some day he recognizes that his dislike is unjust, and from that time resolutely shows outward kindness to the man, and turns away instantly from all thoughts against him. His will is acting rightly, but against the grain; for the old habit of dislike is still in him, ready to break out into action at any moment if he would allow it. It is true that this dislike is a wrong one. And precisely because he sees that it is wrong, the man is constantly repressing it, doing all he can to wear it down and hoping some day to find that it is dead. The existence of the desire is therefore wrong, a result of sin, but not sinful. And it is no longer the cause of sins, but is now the material of virtuous acts every time that the will resists it and acts against it. Such as this are the habitual desires, attractions, and repulsions that the soul may carry with it to Purgatory, because they have not yet been worked out of its being in this life. In Purgatory they must be removed from the soul; not now by work, nor by the soulís resisting them and acting against them, but merely by suffering. In Purgatory such a dislike could never lead to sin. For in this world it leads to sin because the soul is still in the body. Through the senses, through the humors and state of the body, the will is provoked or drawn to indulge these desires or dislikes; and at the same time and for the same reasons, it easily loses sight of God and His love.
"In Purgatory all the distractions of the body are gone; and the soulís love for God absorbs it continuously and prevents it attending to any other desire. The bad desire or repulsion is latent in the soul, as it is in this life at the times when it does not trouble a man. But in Purgatory there is no possibility of its ever breaking out into action. It is simply burning out slowly in the fire of suffering. Luther did not suggest that the suffering soul could sin in this way, but in the very fact of finding its sufferings painful. We have seen that to the soul it is intensely painful to be held away from God, to know that it has insulted Him and is unfit to approach Him. Plainly it is right that these things should be painful to the soul; it would be wrong if the soul could be satisfied with them. And the soulís act of will is to accept this pain because it is right. This act of will is completely pleasing to God, but wins the soul no higher place in heaven. For its place in heaven was won during its life on earth."
56. How long will souls be kept in Purgatory?
"It is the constant teaching of the Church," says Rev. J. B. McLaughlin, O.S.B., "that all purgation will be completed when the general judgment comes at the end of the world. All the souls that are to go to Heaven will at that judgment be reunited to their bodies and enter into their everlasting reward. But as to the duration of the purgation of individual souls we know nothing from our Lordís teaching. He tells us in a parable, Ďthou shalt not depart thence till thou pay the last farthing.í This shows the need of perfect purity before we can enter Heaven; but reveals nothing about the length of time of imprisonment. The Church allows perpetual Masses to be arranged for one soul. This is because she does not know how long that soul may be suffering, nor how much atonement God will accept on its behalf from men. We have to remember that all times are alike present to God. There is nothing unlikely in supposing that prayers and Masses now being offered for one who died before the Reformation were the means of that soul entering into Heaven many hundreds of years ago, as our Lordís Passion was the means of saving Adamís soul. The visions God has allowed of souls begging for prayers many years after their death are evidence that these souls have been in suffering all that time. And if there are authentic visions where souls have also told that their Purgatory was to last many years yet, these also may be believed without fear of contradicting Catholic teaching. Those who are alive at the end of the world, and whose souls are stained with venial sin or owe a debt of punishment, must have their purgation like other such souls before they can enter Heaven. About these, people have wondered over two questions, of which God has not taught us the answers. First, as to their bodies. Are they to pass alive into Heaven or hell, or are they to die and rise again at once? And as to their souls, when are they to suffer their Purgatory, since they are not judged till the general judgment, and after that judgment there is no Purgatory? This is ask ing Almighty God how His doings are to be fitted into the tiny measures of time and space that He has made for our bodily life. He gives us glimpses to let us know how narrow is our vision, and that we must be content to know that He is infinitely above our understanding. We must not attempt to limit what He can do in what we call the Ďmomentí of judgment.íOf this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.í And on our side we know that a moment of intense anxiety, waiting to know will a falling stone crush a child, seems like an age. The work of purgation to be done in these souls is the same as in the souls of the mar tyrs. In the martyrs it is done in their sometimes brief dying. As easily can God do it at the last day."
57. Was Purgatory always believed in by the early Christians?
"The belief in Purgatory is an excellent example of what is meant by tradition in the Church. When the belief is challenged, when we are asked to cease praying for the dead, it is sufficient to answer, ĎBut we have been praying for them since the time of the Apostles.í The mere fact of praying for them implies the belief that these souls are not yet in Heaven, nor hopelessly lost in hell; that they will reach Heaven in the end; that our prayers may help them. And this, duly weighed, is seen to imply further that the bond which holds together Godís spiritual family or communion is not mere justice, but love. Once we realize that the work of His kingdom is to spread in our hearts love for God and love for each other, it seems quite natural that those, who have offended Him should be helped by each otherís prayers. All this belief is embodied in the most effectual way in the practice of praying for the dead; for by learning that practice and the meaning of it, and by doing it, we learn it not simply as a thing to believe, but as a fact to be dealt with, and calling for action. In the Church from the be ginning there has been the practice of praying for the dead and offering the Mass for them. Very early we find recorded the custom of offering special prayers and Masses on the thirtieth day and on the anniversary of death. The writers speak of these things simply as the established traditional practice of the Church. This traditional practice of the Church is a running stream of witness to her belief. And when we find the earliest written references to it speak of it as the traditional and unquestioned practice of the Church, we have an argument to show that the doctrine was believed and acted on from the time of the Apostles. When Popes and Councils are called on to define a doctrine that heretics are challenging or perverting, they demonstrate what the Church has always believed by examining the practices which the Church has followed or encouraged, and pointing out what truths are implied in these practices. The infallible declaration of Popes and General Councils is argument enough for a Catholic; for the living voice of the Church teaching even in St. Peterís time was no surer nor holier than is the living voice of the Pope today, seeing that always it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, leading Christís Church into all truth, and bringing back to her mind whatever Christ taught her. But it is sometimes an encouragement, and al ways a joy, to find St. Gregory the Great or St. Augustine talking of the prayers and Masses offered for this soul and for that, and the hope of benefiting such souls, in the same matter of fact and simple way as a school child talks of them today," etc. See "Purgatory or The Church Suffering," by Rev. J. B. McLaughlin, O.S.B.
In his "Discourse on Purgatory," Dr. Forbes states:
"Let not the ancient practice of praying, and making ablations for the dead, received throughout the universal Church of Christ, almost from the very time of the Apostles, be any more rejected by Protestants, as unlawful or vain. Let them reverence the judgment of the primitive Church; and admit a practice strengthened by the uninterrupted profession of so many ages."
The noted historian, W. Mallock, in "Is Life Worth Living," says:
"As to this doctrine of Purgatory which has so long been a stumbling block to the whole Protestant world time goes on, and the view men take is changing. It is becoming fast recognized on all sides that it is the only doctrine that can bring a belief in future rewards and punishments into anything like accordance with our notions of what is right and reasonable. So far from its being a superfluous superstition, it seems to be just what is demanded at once by reason and morality, and a belief in it to be not only intellectual assent, but a partial harmonizing of the whole moral ideal."
Rev. W. T. Lardge, a nonconformist minister of Preston, England.
"It is a simple and self-evident truth, both from the Scriptures and common sense, that there must be an intermediate world between Heaven and hell immediately on leaving this world. This doctrine was at one time acknowledged by the Church at large. As Christians you are bound to admit the reality of that doctrine, if you believe in the Bible as the Word of God."
In the "Life of Johnson," by Boswell, the author asks a question of the man whose life, he is writing, and receives this answer:
"What do you think, sir, of Purgatory, as believed by the Roman Catholics?" Johnson: ĎWhy, sir, it is a very harmless doctrine. They are of opinion that the generality of mankind are neither so obstinately wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good as to merit being admitted into the society of blessed spirits; and, therefore, that God is graciously pleased to allow of a middle state, where they may be purified by a certain degree of suffering. You see, sir, there is nothing unreasonable in this."í
This one is available in booklet form from www.tanbooks.com as well. And so are others on various topics.
I highly recommend the following:
1. HOW THE BIBLE CONVERTED ME TO CATHOLICISM† One Protestant Minister's††††
†††††† Pilgrimage by Gerry Matatics .†††† www.catholictreasures.com
2. The Conversion of Scott Hahn† (audio tape)† www.catholicity.com
3. Rome Sweet Home† by Scott & Kimberly Hahn. Excellent book.
4. Surprised by Truth
††† Surprised by Truth 2, both by Patrick Madrid† These are books that contain conversion stories
of real people ranging from Protestants of varying denominations to Jews, Atheists, even a
former† pagan webmaster.
5. I recommend the following booklets, you can order hard copies or you can read them on the Web:
WHERE WE GOT THE BIBLE
OUR DEBT TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Twenty One Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura
Which Bible Should You Read?
These can all be ordered from Tan Books†††††† www.tanbooks.com
6. For a real hardcore in depth study of 3 things Protestants and Catholics debate about get
Not By Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura
† All by Robert Sungenis. Published by Queenship Publishing.
Bible Basics by Steven Kellmeyer†† Basilica Press
The Scriptural Roots of Catholic Teaching by Chantal Epie† Sophia Institute Press
http://olrl.org/apologetics/cathansr.html†††††††† The Catholic Church has the Answer
http://olrl.org/apologetics/confessrc.html†††††† Confession of a Roman Catholic
http://olrl.org/apologetics/churchbible.html††† The Church or the Bible